Item #39389 Autograph letter signed ("D. Shostakovich") from the young composer to his closest friend at the time, noted Russian musicologist, critic, and composer Valerian Bogdanov-Berezovsky. With musical content. Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH.

Autograph letter signed ("D. Shostakovich") from the young composer to his closest friend at the time, noted Russian musicologist, critic, and composer Valerian Bogdanov-Berezovsky. With musical content

4 pp. of a bifolium. Octavo. Plus postscript on a small slip of paper ca. 98 x 80 mm laid in. In purple ink. Addressed to "Eldosha" (nickname). Dated Gaspra, Crimea, 29 July 1924. In Cyrillic (with translation).

The not quite 18-year-old composer writes from the spa town of Gaspra, where he was sent to recuperate after contracting tuberculosis in 1923.

After a somewhat obscene introduction, Shostakovich thanks Bogdanov-Berezovsky for inquiring about his work and states: "I have started a fugue in eight parts and have finished one orchestral scherzo that I wrote for two pianos. It is brilliant!," promising to show it to his correspondent when he sees him and suggesting that they organize a concert with "somebody's symphony" first followed by Bogdanov-Berezovsky's concerto for piano and intermezzo and then three of Shostakovich's scherzos.

Shostakovich goes on to pose a playful series of questions and answers about life and love and includes a joke about how "one German used to say how difficult the Russian language is" as a postscript.

With several minor autograph corrections.

Slightly worn, browned, and creased; small purple ink stain to blank area at head.

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. ...

In March 1924 Shostakovich was excluded from the post graduate piano course [at the Petrograd Conservatory], officially because of ‘insufficient maturity’; he came close to transferring to the Moscow Conservatory, where he already had a number of friendly contacts, to study piano with Konstantin Igumnov and composition with Nikolay Myaskovsky. After he had enjoyed a second rest-cure in the Crimea he was reinstated with Nikolayev in Leningrad. He set to work in earnest on his symphony, now a prescribed graduation task." Laurel Fay and David Fanning in Grove Music Online

Shostakovich considered Valerian Mikhailovich Bogdanov-Berezovksy (1903-1971) his closest friend during his years at the Conservatory; Bogdanov-Berezovsky went on to become one of the leading Soviet musicologists and critics of his generation.

"Shostakovich's friendship with Bodgdanov-Berezovsky coincided with the most eventful years of his personal development, when the teenager displaying signs of outstanding creative talent became a young man with touchingly child-like sides to his nature. His letters to his friend reveal a wide range of emotional responses - tenderness, sensitivity, ardent devotion, irascibility, deep impressionability, morbid vulnerability - such are the 'passions' of teenagers discovering themselves and others through the tangled weave of personal relations. We observe the bitterness of first betrayals and losses, the forging of the shield of psychological defenses, the curiously contradictory combination of pliancy and pig-headedness, caustic ironic criticism of others and of himself, empty chatter about trifles and presentiments of what is truly important. The attentive reader will discern signs of a complex process of maturation as Shostakovich shed one skin after another through experience of life. These letters from the 1920s reveal his inner world with a remarkable immediacy and fullness, as though his soul was laid bare.

We can also observe the origins of Shostakovich's epistolary stock phrases and his teenage love of bad language, which he uses to express the chastest of feelings and to formulate what would become enduring convictions. The letters abound in nicknames, which the young Shostakovich adored and which he employed with virtuosic aplomb. ...

In former decades, such letters could scarcely have been published, mainly on account of their vocabulary. The 15-year-old Mitya Shostakovich did not give external censorship a thought: it only became a concern later in the 1930s, on account of the mass repressions and the devastating criticism directed at him by the Communist party. But internal censorship is also absent . ...

"The correspondence between the two men is of exceptional interest, as it offers a unique insight into Shostakovich’s character and artistic outlook at a crucial formative period. Unlike the composer’s later correspondence, in which he expressed himself with far greater circumspection, these letters are wholly free from self-censorship and reveal his innermost thoughts about life, love, and art with unusual frankness. The exuberant personality that they reveal stands in marked contrast to the ‘official’ public persona that Shostakovich adopted subsequently in his dealings with the outside world." Kovnatskaya: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man: The Shostakovich-Bogdanov-Berezovsky Correspondence in Zuk and Frolova-Walker, eds.: Russian Music Since 1917, abstract and pp. 272-3.

An early letter with good musical content, written at a highly formative period in the composer's career, offering important insights into the relationship of Shostakovich and his closest friend as young men.

Item #39389

Price: $4,500.00  other currencies

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