Arthur Honegger. Third Symphony (“Liturgical“). Arrangement
DSCH Publishers, Moscow, 2017
Dmitri Shostakovich’s Archive—rec. gr. 1, section 1, f. 314 (A)
Arthur Honegger. Third Symphony (“Liturgical“)
Arranged for Two Pianos
The third arrangement done by Shostakovich primarily differs from the other two in that it was initially prompted by an audial impression (let us recall that the arrangements of the fragment of Mahler’s Tenth Symphony and Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms owe their appearance to Shostakovich’s acquaintance with the scores). Shostakovich heard Arthur Honegger’s Third (“Liturgical”) Symphony at the Prague Spring Festival in May 1947. It was a ground-breaking work at the time. The world premiere was held less than a year prior to this, on 17 August 1946 in Zurich under the baton of Charles Munch, to whom the symphony was dedicated. Munch also conducted it in Prague, where the symphony was performed twice, on 16 and 17 May, by the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra.
Shostakovich’s itinerary in Prague was extremely full. In addition to the festival, he also participated in the International Congress of Composers and Musicologists, which began on 16 May. His diary chronicles the events, with the last congress meeting being scheduled for 26 May, the day of Shostakovich’s chamber concert. However, his diary does not mention Honegger’s symphony, so it is only possible to make an approximate guess at when precisely Shostakovich worked on the arrangement. Apparently, it was done between the two concerts, at which the “Liturgical” Symphony was performed using the conductor’s score, which it had been possible to obtain for a short while. Shostakovich usually immediately did a fair copy of this kind of work and wrote extremely quickly.
The arrangement was clearly meant for the students of Shostakovich’s composition class, like the arrangement of Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms ten years earlier. However, judging from the appearance of the notation, the work was not used, and this is understandable—in the autumn of 1948, Shostakovich was dismissed from the Moscow and Leningrad conservatories and his teaching activity ceased for more than a decade.
The manuscript of the arrangement was left to lie among the composer’s papers. It was found and attributed by Manashir Iakubov only after Shostakovich’s death.
Shostakovich’s holograph contains the notation, the tempo indications and the numbers of movements given in Roman numerals. The rest is missing—there is neither the name of the author, nor the symphony’s subtitle “Liturgique” (“Liturgical”), nor the Latin names of the movements borrowed from Roman Catholic rite (Dies irae; De profundis clamavi; Dona nobis pacem). Manashir Iakubov believed that this was done for cautionary purposes—“so that no one would see at the border that he was bringing a religious work into the Soviet Union, he did not indicate the author, title, or names of the movements”.
However, Shostakovich did not put Stravinsky’s name on the arrangement of the Symphony of Psalms either—it only has the name of the work. As for the Honegger piece, haste may have played its role here, nor can the copyright problem be excluded.
Shostakovich’s arrangement had never been performed and remained essentially unknown until Manashir Iakubov found it. The publication of a different version of the arrangement of the same symphony for piano four hands done by Boris Berezovsky and Nikolai Khotuntsov (Muzyka Publishers, Moscow, 1976), serves as indirect evidence of this.