2 pp., densely written. Dated Moscow, 9 March 1925. In black ink. In Russian (with translation).
A lively and intimate early letter, replete with both musical and personal references, written when the composer was just 18-1/2 years of age, as he was completing his first symphony and adjusting to life in Moscow at the Conservatory.
"I am trying to publish a few dances and a trio. I took the manuscripts to the publisher today. I will play the pieces on Thursday and look forward to the outcome. I won't be happy if they don't understand the music. That will be a knock to my pride."
Shostakovich goes on to admonish his correspondent regarding something that Belyaev had told Misha: "I ran into Belyaev recently. He turned to me saying, why did you tell Shostakovich that I told Mayakovsky about Mitya transferring to the Moscow Conservatory. You put me in an uncomfortable position ..."
He then relates details about a visit to Yavorsky, saying that he "liked him very much ..." and continues to relate a story about an encounter with homosexual overtones.
Slightly worn and browned; creased at folds.
"In March 1925, when he was having difficulties with the last movement of the symphony, Shostakovich presented a selection of his music in Moscow. On this occasion the young Vissarion Shebalin made the bigger impression, but the visit at least helped Shostakovich to develop and inaugurate some important friendships – with Shebalin, with the theorist Boleslav Yavorsky, and with the music-loving marshal Mikhail Tukhachevsky ...
... By April 1925, the [first] symphony was complete in piano score, and the orchestration was finished by 2 July. ... The 12 May performance, coincidentally the first radio broadcast from the Great Hall of the Leningrad Philharmonic, was a major public and professional success. ...
The success of Shostakovich’s First Symphony catapulted him to international fame. The piece was taken up in rapid succession by Walter, Toscanini, Klemperer, Stokowski and others in the West, and it drew congratulatory letters from Milhaud and Berg. Its cachet lay partly in the fact that it was the first symphony composed in the Soviet Union to win a place in the general repertory and partly in that it had been composed by a teenager."
Shostakovich "is generally regarded as the greatest symphonist of the mid-20th century, and many of his string quartets, concertos, instrumental and vocal works are also firmly established in the repertory. ... He played a decisive role in the musical life of the former Soviet Union, as teacher, writer and administrator. He was also an active pianist, frequently performing his own works until disability prevented him. His last concert appearance was in 1966." Laurel Fay and David Fanning in Grove Music Online
Bogdanov-Berezovksy (1903-1971), a leading Russian musicologist, composer, and music critic, was a great friend of Shostakovich.
Boleslav Leopol' dovich Yavorsky (1877-1942), a Russian musicologist, music teacher, and pianist, was a professor at the Moscow Conservatory from 1928 and a great influence on Shostakovich; he was, in part, responsible for arranging the first performance of Shostakovich's first symphony.
"Misha" may refer to the young Moscow composer and friend of Shostakovich, Mikhail Cheremukhin.
The reference to Myakovsky may be to the important Soviet poet, playwright, artist, and actor Vladimir Mayakovsky (1893-1930).
A highly interesting letter, offering significant insight into the young composer.
Price: $3,200.00 other currencies