Shostakovich – Quartets
l  Condemnation following the attack in Soviet Press
on the opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk.
l  19...
Essay Title
l  In the New York Times Richard Taruskin wrote:
l  ‘In 1960, by which time his international fame offered
h...
Other Titles
l  4. The string quartets of Shostakovich
reveal a more personal and private profile
than the Symphonies. Di...
Fifth Symphony
l  Formalism the great sin – yet Fifth follows form –
conventional sonata form.
l  Tragic feel of first m...
New directions in style
l  Economy – mammoth orchestra of earlier
symphonies is gone – though extra percussion and
two ha...
Neo-Classicism?
l  Some similarities with Stravinsky’s neo-classical
style. (Appollon)
l  But Shostakovich’s work more p...
An artists response to just
criticism
l  The subtitle suggested submission.
l  The style was conservative and less
perso...
Fifth Quartet (1951-52)
l  Attaching of all three movements reflects
and underlying concern with thematic unity,
l  Firs...
First Quartet
l  Opus. 49. C major (1938); Moderato;
Moderato; Allegro molto; Allegro
l  `I visualised childhood scenes,...
First mvt
l  Sonata with melody (mostly first violin) and
accompaniment.
l  Some jocky passages for cello with gliss.
l...
2nd mvt
l  Starts in A minor – viola solo (viola
important throughout)- folk-like melody.
l  7 variations and a recapitu...
3rd mvt
l  Witty and impish scherzo in C sharp minor.
l  Much of it has homophonic rhythms –
repeated quavers – or later...
4th mvt
l  Finale back to C major and in sonata form
l  Complex rhythmically with augementation,
changes of metre and me...
Second Quartet
l  Opus. 68. A major (1944); Overture;
Recitative and Romance; Waltz; Theme
with Variations.
l  Composed ...
Third Quartet
l  Opus. 73. F major (1946); Allegretto;
Moderato con moto; Allegro non troppo;
Adagio – attacca; Moderato ...
Third Quartet
l  Originally it had programmatic titles 1.
Calm unawareness of the future cataclysm.
2. Rumblings of unres...
Fourth Quartet
l  Opus. 83. D major (1949); Allegretto;
Andantino; Allegretto-attacca; Allegretto.
Written after the seco...
4th quartet
Fifth Quartet
l  Opus. 92. B flat major (1952); Allegro non
troppo; Andante – andantino – andante –
andantino – andante –...
Fifth Quartet
l  Opening allegro non troppo is a large scale sonata-
form movement complete with repeated
exposition.
l ...
Sixth Quartet
l  Opus. 101. G major (1956); Allegretto,
Moderato con moto; Moderato con moto.
Stalin had died in 1953 and...
Seventh Quartet
l  Opus. 108. F sharp minor (1960);
Allegretto – attacca; Lento-attacca; Allegro-
Allegrett-Adagio.
l  S...
Eighth Quartet
l  Opus.110. C minor (1960); Largo-attacca;
Allegro molto-attacca; Allegretto-attacca;
Largo-attacca; Larg...
Eighth Quartet
l  The five movements are played without a
break and are all built from the same
material-it has unusual s...
Ninth Quartet
l  Opus. 117. E flat minor (1964); Moderato
con moto-attacca; Adagio-attacca;
Allegretto-attacca; Adagio-at...
Tenth Quartet
l  Opus.118. A flat major (1964); Andante;
Allegretto furioso; Adagio-attacca;
Allegretto-Andante.
l  Dedi...
Eleventh Quartet
l  Seven miniatures – like a human comedy –
full of dark humour.
l  Like a film score.
l  All movement...
Eleventh Quartet
l  Opus.122. F minor (1966); Introduction:
Andantino-attacca; Scherzo: Allegretto-
attacca; Rectitative;...
Twelfth Quartet
l  Opus.133. D flat major (1968); Moderato-
Allegretto-Moderato-Allegretto-Moderato.
Dialectic approach t...
12 th quartet - moderato
Thirteenth Quartet
l  Opus.138. B flat minor (1970); Adagio-
Doppio movimento-Tempo primo. More
use of unconventional pla...
Fourteenth Quartet
Opus. 142. F sharp major (1972-3);
Allegretto-Meno mosso-Allegretto-meno
mosso-Allegretto.
Fifteenth Quartet
l  Opus. 144. E flat minor (1974); Elegy:
Adagio-attacca; Serenade: Adagio-attacca;
Intermezzo: Adagio-...
Assessment
l  Greatest set of twentienth-century quartets.
l  Range of styles from new experimetalism of
12th to conserv...
Shostakovich quartets 2014
Shostakovich quartets 2014
Shostakovich quartets 2014
Shostakovich quartets 2014
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Shostakovich quartets 2014

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Shostakovich quartets 2014

  1. 1. Shostakovich – Quartets l  Condemnation following the attack in Soviet Press on the opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk. l  1936 saw his works under real scrutiny and little was composed in the immediate aftermath. l  Irony that Lady Macbeth was in many ways unobjectionable and far less abstract or un-Soviet than The Nose – which was highly ironic. l  But it was sympathetic to the female character in a time of state crisis – tender understanding anathema to state authorities.
  2. 2. Essay Title l  In the New York Times Richard Taruskin wrote: l  ‘In 1960, by which time his international fame offered him a shield, Shostakovich gave in to pressure and joined the Communist Party. The autobiographical Eight Quartet, which places his musical monogram in conjunction with a famous prison song, was an act of atonement for this display of weakness.’ l  Show how Shostakovich’s personal history and experiences are revealed in this and other quartets.
  3. 3. Other Titles l  4. The string quartets of Shostakovich reveal a more personal and private profile than the Symphonies. Discuss. l  7. Take any two quartets and any two symphonies of Shostakovich and demonstrate how he both remained within the Western classical tradition of Beethoven to Mahler, but was also able to transcend it.
  4. 4. Fifth Symphony l  Formalism the great sin – yet Fifth follows form – conventional sonata form. l  Tragic feel of first movement also suspect. l  Art supposed to reflect folk or national idioms – yet very little of such reference is made in the work. Shostakovich had been told in party publications to represent heroic Soviet peasants through folk idioms. l  Paradox that official reception was so positive.
  5. 5. New directions in style l  Economy – mammoth orchestra of earlier symphonies is gone – though extra percussion and two harps. l  He had abandoned the huge 4th Symphony realising that it would get him into even greater problems l  Avoids complex treatment of themes. l  No idea inflated beyond its capacity. l  Clarity and simplicity of style to the fore.
  6. 6. Neo-Classicism? l  Some similarities with Stravinsky’s neo-classical style. (Appollon) l  But Shostakovich’s work more programmatic – to show the making of a man’ l  `I saw a man with all his experiences in the centre of the composition which is lyrical in form from beginning to end. The finale is the optimistic solution of the tragically tense moments of the first movement’. l  Need to cover anticipated official criticism of tragedy in symphonic writing.
  7. 7. An artists response to just criticism l  The subtitle suggested submission. l  The style was conservative and less personal. l  It met with huge official success and restored him in official favour. l  In its wake he stared on the first quartet. l  It saved the Symphony as an acceptable form for Soviet composition.
  8. 8. Fifth Quartet (1951-52) l  Attaching of all three movements reflects and underlying concern with thematic unity, l  First four notes of the motive played by the viola at the outset (heard 5 times in the first 12 bars) are a permutation of Shostakovich’s musical signature DSCH (D-Eflat-C-B) – also motif of the tenth symphony.
  9. 9. First Quartet l  Opus. 49. C major (1938); Moderato; Moderato; Allegro molto; Allegro l  `I visualised childhood scenes, somewhat naïve and bright with spring’. l  Written in the months following the 5th Symphony and the trauma of his first denunciation by the party for `muddle instead of music’
  10. 10. First mvt l  Sonata with melody (mostly first violin) and accompaniment. l  Some jocky passages for cello with gliss. l  Simply melodic idea at the start. l  Only a few moments when solos are heard.
  11. 11. 2nd mvt l  Starts in A minor – viola solo (viola important throughout)- folk-like melody. l  7 variations and a recapitulation. l  Gentle and acts as a slow movement
  12. 12. 3rd mvt l  Witty and impish scherzo in C sharp minor. l  Much of it has homophonic rhythms – repeated quavers – or later minim/crotchet.
  13. 13. 4th mvt l  Finale back to C major and in sonata form l  Complex rhythmically with augementation, changes of metre and metrical modulations.
  14. 14. Second Quartet l  Opus. 68. A major (1944); Overture; Recitative and Romance; Waltz; Theme with Variations. l  Composed with the war moving towards victory. It has a Russian sound and echoes of Tchaikovsky. l  Theatrical movement titles - it is a mixture of old and new elements.
  15. 15. Third Quartet l  Opus. 73. F major (1946); Allegretto; Moderato con moto; Allegro non troppo; Adagio – attacca; Moderato – Adagio. An epic written after the war in the context of the seventh and eight symphonies.
  16. 16. Third Quartet l  Originally it had programmatic titles 1. Calm unawareness of the future cataclysm. 2. Rumblings of unrest and anticipation. 3. The forces or war unleashed. 4. Homage to the dead. 5. The eternal question – why and for what? It may also have elements of Klesmer music which fascinated Shostakovich.
  17. 17. Fourth Quartet l  Opus. 83. D major (1949); Allegretto; Andantino; Allegretto-attacca; Allegretto. Written after the second denunciation and rehabiliation of 1948, it may also have Jewish meanings, with folk-like middle eastern melody, rhythm and texture. The first two movements use monothematic shapes, and the third is a menacing scherzo that leads by way of a viola incantation to a the finale which finishes in statis. Finale
  18. 18. 4th quartet
  19. 19. Fifth Quartet l  Opus. 92. B flat major (1952); Allegro non troppo; Andante – andantino – andante – andantino – andante – attaca l  A companion piece to the Tenth Symphony. It has three large movements. It has groups of subject themes and is a teeming historical panorama. The last movement has a long contemplative introduction leading to a rondo-finale. l  Written in year of Stalin’s Death
  20. 20. Fifth Quartet l  Opening allegro non troppo is a large scale sonata- form movement complete with repeated exposition. l  Intense even tragic slow movement presents a simple alternation of Andante and Andantino sections. l  More complex finale is full of finely wrought counterpoint – from writing of 24 Preludes and Fugues for piano (1950-51). Influence of piano in polyphony and thematic integration
  21. 21. Sixth Quartet l  Opus. 101. G major (1956); Allegretto, Moderato con moto; Moderato con moto. Stalin had died in 1953 and from this point there is a gradual thaw in the repression. However Shostakovich’s personal life was turbulent with the death of his wife and mother and a short-lived second marriage in 1956. A light work in contrast to the 5th simple ostinati, drones, dance figures and easy tunes. Gradually all is invaded by sense of darkness
  22. 22. Seventh Quartet l  Opus. 108. F sharp minor (1960); Allegretto – attacca; Lento-attacca; Allegro- Allegrett-Adagio. l  Shostakovich’s shortest (11 minutes) but of great intensity. Dedicated to the memory of his first wife – a profound leave taking. Balancing of extreme elements ended by a musical death at the end.
  23. 23. Eighth Quartet l  Opus.110. C minor (1960); Largo-attacca; Allegro molto-attacca; Allegretto-attacca; Largo-attacca; Largo. Year of 1960 one of crisis. l  The quartet is dedicated to the memory of the victims of fascism and war. Shostakovich visited Dresden and witnessed the devastation – it as an autobiographical quartet.
  24. 24. Eighth Quartet l  The five movements are played without a break and are all built from the same material-it has unusual structural and thematic unity. Different views of the same personal experience.
  25. 25. Ninth Quartet l  Opus. 117. E flat minor (1964); Moderato con moto-attacca; Adagio-attacca; Allegretto-attacca; Adagio-attacca; Allegro. Married the much younger Irina Supinskaya and restablished his independent voice. Ninth and tenth both composed in summer of 1964. dedicated to his new wife. All five connected movements grow out of each other like one gesture
  26. 26. Tenth Quartet l  Opus.118. A flat major (1964); Andante; Allegretto furioso; Adagio-attacca; Allegretto-Andante. l  Dedicated to friend the composer Mtak Wainberg. First movment has three themes which grow out of each other. Brutal second movement, third a passacaglia and the last disappears into nothing.
  27. 27. Eleventh Quartet l  Seven miniatures – like a human comedy – full of dark humour. l  Like a film score. l  All movements brief. l  Each movement has a theme – and all appear in the finale. l  Tells a story of human tragedy.
  28. 28. Eleventh Quartet l  Opus.122. F minor (1966); Introduction: Andantino-attacca; Scherzo: Allegretto- attacca; Rectitative; Adagio-attacca; Etude: Allegro-attacca; Humoresque: Allegreo- attacca; Elergy: Adagio-attacca; Finale: Moderato-meno mosso-Moderato. Like a film score – seven miniatures human comedies that are ultimately tragic. Full of dark humour.
  29. 29. Twelfth Quartet l  Opus.133. D flat major (1968); Moderato- Allegretto-Moderato-Allegretto-Moderato. Dialectic approach throughout. Gigantic second movement really three. Third uses all 12 pitches in the theme and five –note rhythmic figure. The adagio a point of stillness and the last movement a redefinition of all that has been before.
  30. 30. 12 th quartet - moderato
  31. 31. Thirteenth Quartet l  Opus.138. B flat minor (1970); Adagio- Doppio movimento-Tempo primo. More use of unconventional playing techniques. Harshness of last three reflect the world of pain and drugs Shostakovich lived in. Polio, heart desease and cancer. Features viola and dedicated to Vadim Borisovsky of Beethoven quartet. Symmetry of form with jazz section at centre. Full of dissonace and atonality – full gamut of musical language from folk to radical dissonance.
  32. 32. Fourteenth Quartet Opus. 142. F sharp major (1972-3); Allegretto-Meno mosso-Allegretto-meno mosso-Allegretto.
  33. 33. Fifteenth Quartet l  Opus. 144. E flat minor (1974); Elegy: Adagio-attacca; Serenade: Adagio-attacca; Intermezzo: Adagio-attacca; Nocturne: Adagio-attacca; Funeral March: Adagio molto-attacca; Epilogue: Adagio molto l 
  34. 34. Assessment l  Greatest set of twentienth-century quartets. l  Range of styles from new experimetalism of 12th to conservatism of 1st; from oddity of 11th to deep sadness of 8th. l  All are individual and reflet most closely on his personal progress through a difficult life. A life that charts not only the struggles of the Soviet era – but of the world in general.

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