Works Choral Compositions

Ten Poems on Texts by Revolutionary Poets of the Late 19th and Early 20th Century. For a Mixed Choir a cappella

Opus 87a Opus 89

Opus 88
1951 year

Ten Poems on Texts by Revolutionary Poets. Op. 88.


Moscow. Great Hall of the Conservatoire. State Choir for Russian Songs and Boys' Choir of the Moscow Choir School conducted by A. Sveshnikov.

first publication:

1952. "Muzgiz" Publishers, Moscow.


Hand-written score in the RNMM (Stack 32, Item 22).

  1. Boldly, Friends, On We March. Words by L. Radin
  2. One of Many. Words by Ye. Tarasov
  3. To the Streets! Words by an unknown author
  4. The Meeting in Transit to Exile. Words by А. Gmyrev
  5. To the Executed. Words by А. Gmyrev
  6. The Ninth of January. Words by А. Kots
  7. The Volleys Have Become Silent. Words by Ye. Tarasov
  8. They Were Victorious. Words by А. Gmyrev
  9. May Day Song. Words by А. Kots
  10. Song. Words by V. Tan-Bogoraz (from W. Whitman)

"The ten poems are linked together by a common theme - the revolution of 1905. I don't know to what extent I managed to convey the spirit of those times. Yet the music was bound to reflect the enormous impact which Russian revolutionary songs always had on me".

Ten Poems on Texts by Revolutionary Poets of the Late 19th and Early 20th Century
for a Mixed Unaccompanied Choir

     Shostakovich wrote Ten Poems on Texts by Revolutionary Poets, Op. 88, in 1951. not long before their premiere, on 27 September 1951, the composer explained the main idea of the composition in an interview with the newspaper Vechernyaya Moskva: ‘The ten poems for a choral ensemble are united by the same theme— the 1905 revolution. I don’t know how successful I was at conveying the spirit of the times. But the music could not help but reflect the huge impact that Russian revolutionary music has always had on me.’
     Opus 88 opens with the poem ‘Boldly, Friends, On We March’ to the words of Leonid Radin (1860-­1900), a evolutionary, talented chemist, student of Dmitri Mendeleyev. The poems ‘One of Many’ (no. 2) and ‘The Volleys have Become Silent’ (no. 7) are based on the verses of ‘singer of the December uprising’ Yevgeni Tarasov (1882­-1943), a professional revolutionary who took active part in the barricade battles in Moscow. The poem ‘To the Streets’ (no. 3), written by an anonymous author, was distributed in 1902 in the south of Russia as a pamphlet and was published at the same time by the Odessa Committee of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party. The verse on which three poems—no. 4 (‘The Meeting in Transit to exile’), no. 5 (‘To the executed’) and no. 8 (‘They Were Victorious’)—were based belongs to Aleksey Gmyrev (1887-­1911), a poet and worker at a ship­building factory in nikolayev who was repeatedly arrested from the age of 17 and died in a penal­labour colony at the age of 24. The poems ‘The ninth of January’ (no. 6) and ‘May Day Song’ (no. 9) were written to words by Arkady Kots (1872­-1943), a revolutionary, poet and translator primarily known for his translation of eugene Pottier’s (1902) proletarian hymn The Internationale from the French. The final choral piece ‘Song’ (no. 10) was set to the verses of Vladimir Bogoraz , a prominent ethnographer, researcher of the peoples of the North, professor at Leningrad State University and the Herzen Teacher Training Institute, cus­todian of the Museum of Anthropology and ethnography of the USSR Academy of Sciences, poet, writer and translator.
     Shostakovich wrote Ten Poems in February-­March 1951. The date several items of the cycle were finished can be found in the rough author’s manuscript of the score of Ten Poems: 26 February—the 2nd poem ‘One of Many’, 3 March—the 9th poem ‘May Day Song’ and 19 March—the 10th poem ‘“Song’.
     The premiere of Ten Poems was entrusted to the State Academic Russian Choir of the USSR directed by Aleksandr Sveshnikov.
     The first performance was held on 10 October 1951 in the Grand hall of the Moscow Conservatory by the State Academic Russian Choir of the USSR and the Boys’ Choir of the Moscow Choral Academy under the baton of Aleksandr Sveshnikov. Shostakovich attended the premiere.
     In February 1952, Ten Poems was first performed in Leningrad (with the same performers as in Moscow). On 22 February, Shostakovich attended the concert in the Grand hall of the Leningrad Philharmonic Society, writing beforehand in his diary: ‘At 20.30, choral poems in the G.H.L.P.’
     In 1952, the choral poems were awarded a Stalin Prize of the Second Class.
     After the premiere, the composition was repeatedly performed by different collectives primarily in the form of separate items, and not in its entirety. In addition to Aleksandr Sveshnikov, the following names can be mentioned among the outstanding choral conductors who performed the cycle: Grigori Shirma, Vladimir Minin, Avenir Mikhaylov, Boris Pevzner, Aleksandr Ponomarev, Viktor Popov, Andrey Kozhevnikov and Boris Tevlin. The cycle was first recorded in 1959 by the State Academic Russian Choir of the USSR under the baton of Aleksandr Sveshnikov. In 1965 and 1969, the poem ‘To the executed’ was recorded by the Byelorussian State Academic Choir (choir master Grigori Shirma) and a choir of students from Leningrad State University (choir master Grigori Sandler), respectively. In 1974, the Choir of Leningrad Radio and Television (choir master Grigori Sandler) recorded the whole cycle. After 1975, a few more Russian and foreign recordings were issued.