“The Gadfly”. Music for the Film
"Lenfilm". Scriptwriter: Y. Gabrilovich. Director: A. Faintsimmer.
1987. D. Shostakovich, Collected Works, Vol. 42, Moscow.
Whereabouts of the hand-written score unknown. Drafts in the Russian State Archive for Literature and Art (Stack 2048, Inv.1, Item 62).
Screen version of the novel by E. Voynich of the same name
Scriptwriter: Y. Gabrilovich.
Director: A. Faintsimmer.
Released April 12, 1955
Music to the Film
Shostakovich received the proposal to write music to a film by Aleksandr Fayntsimmer The Gadfly on a snap decision. Referring to health problems, at the end of 1954, Aram Khachaturian unexpectedly announced that he was unable to work on the film. The studio and production group heads looked to Shostakovich.
Shostakovich agreed to participate in the film for financial reasons, since making ends meet had become a particular concern for him after the death of his wife (on 4 December 1954 his wife, Nina Vasilyevna Varzar, prematurely passed away). As an impeccable professional, he was able to write in a short time some memorable music of high quality. It was destined to be the composer’s only opus in 1955, during which misfortune continued to befall the composer—the parents of his deceased wife fell ill, and his mother, Sofya Vasilyevna, also became extremely sick. In the autumn (9 November), she passed away.
The composer’s lack of enthusiasm for this film project is possibly related not only to thedecline in the vital and creative energy Shostakovich experienced at this time in his life. The novel written by Ethel Lilian Voynich (1864-1960) did not particularly interest him either. Since the composer’s youth, this book, which was extremely popular in the Soviet Union, had had a series of unpleasant music associations for him.
With the advent of the Soviet era, The Gadfly acquired a new literary status: the aspects that had earlier been criticised—calls for terrorism, atheism, revolutionary slogans, exaggerated romantic fervour—now became reason to include this novel among the best works of world literature.
The film The Gadfly was released on 12 April 1955 , and three days later, the main editing of the opera score was finished.
Contemporaries had a different opinion about the artistic result of Shostakovich’s work on The Gadfly. While they disagreed over the virtues of the film, they saw the music as an absolute standard of art, against which all of its other components were evaluated.
The film was given an ambiguous reception. On the one hand, the audience greeted it hands down—the film was one of the box-office hits in 1955, reaching an audience of 35,100,000 people in the country’s film theatres.
- People's Holiday
- Hurdy-gurdy Waltz
First Edition: Score, "Muzfond" Publishers, Moscow, 1960.
- The Gadfly. Music for film Op. 97. (Introduction. Transcription for 2 violins and piano). Perlman I., Zuckerman P., Sanders S. 1978 //
- EMI 7243 5 65994 2 0, 1996
- The Gadfly. Suite from music to film. Op. 97a. London Philharmonic Orchestra Conductor: Jansons M. 1997 // EMI 7243 5 56591 2 5, 1998
- The Gadfly. Suite from music to film. Op. 97a. (No. 15, Guitars). Arrangement for piano by the author. Shostakovich D.D. 1955 // REVELATION RV 70002, 1997
- The Gadfly. Suite from music to film. Op. 97a. (No. 5, 8). Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields. Conductor: Marriner N. 1987 // HMV 5 73047 2, 1998