SHOSTAKOVICH, Dmitry (1906-1975). A collection of autograph drafts and manuscripts comprising 48 autograph letters signed, three autograph notes signed, one autograph note, two autograph manuscripts signed, four autograph manuscripts, three typescrip...
Estimate: £14,000 - £18,000
ca. US$22,720 - US$29,211
Price realised: £18,400
SHOSTAKOVICH, Dmitry (1906-1975). A collection of autograph drafts and manuscripts comprising 48 autograph letters signed, three autograph notes signed, one autograph note, two autograph manuscripts signed, four autograph manuscripts, three typescripts signed with autograph annotations and two letters signed, n.p. [chiefly Moscow], 11 June 1956 - 19 January 1970 and n.d., together approximately 20 pages, 8vo, 27 pages, 4to and 8 pages, folio, in autograph, and 8 pages, folio, typescript , some drafts on verso of letters to the composer, occasionally several drafts to a leaf; with one letter, two cards and nine envelopes addressed to Shostakovich. A collection illustrating the range of Shostakovich's activities and involvements in both musical and official life in his last two decades. After his return to grace following the death of Stalin, Shostakovich accepted a number of official posts - he was a deputy member of the Supreme Soviet, and first secretary of the Russian chapter of the Union of Soviet Composers. A number of the letters give evidence of his commitment to both of these posts, and in particular his broad involvement in Soviet musical life in general - he writes to congratulate individual composers or performers, as well as institutions, on anniversaries; he gives official endorsement or criticism of the work of other composers (an undated letter to the Board of the USSR Union of Composers gives a formal verdict that M.A. Ashrafi (?) was guilty of plagiarism, 'an act that was incompatible with the lofty title of Soviet composer'); an interesting manuscript of 1962 pays tribute to his friendship with Mikhail Nikolaevich Tukhachevski, the distinguished general and politician executed after a show trial in 1937, remembering in particular Tukhachevski's benign criticism of Shostakovich's flippancy, and urging the proper commemoration of his old friend and others occluded by Stalin's cult of personality; a signed manuscript of a year later shows even greater involvement with the broader sphere of Soviet life, expressing his approval of the Moscow treaty banning nuclear tests, and criticising the Chinese governments objections to the treaty as 'a betrayal of the cause of peace and a departure from Leninist principles'. One of the earliest drafts in the series witnesses Shostakovich's wider renown: it gives his height (176 cm) and head circumference (58 cm) for the fitting for his award of an honorary doctorate at Oxford (1958): 'I would be interested in getting the gown and the hat'. From 1966 onwards (when he developed heart disease) the letters refer increasingly to his ill-health and his difficulties in working: the collection includes a number of consecutive halting drafts for his 1968 resignation letter from his Union of Soviet Composers post. Amongst the letters and documents referring directly to Shostakovich's own work is a particularly interesting undated note apparently for corrections to the score of the 13th Symphony, whose libretto, by Evtushenko, had received criticism for its implicit anti-Stalinism: Shostakovich instructs the removal of the line 'Fears are dying in Russia' from a chorus. Other works referred to are the 12th and 14th Symphonies, the 6th, 9th and 10th Quartets, his opera The Nose and music for the films Hamlet and Karl Marx . Shostakovich's involvement with the Soviet state has caused some controversy, with speculation in particular as to the degree of his approval of and cooperation in the official constraints of musical life, both under the Stalinist regime and later. The present collection gives some indication of the extent to which Shostakovich moulded himself to his political circumstances, and not only retained his artistic integrity but also flourished in the face of potentially crippling difficulties. (64)
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