Item #39405 Autograph letter signed ("D") from the young composer to his closest friend at the time, Russian musicologist, critic, and composer Valerian Bogdanov-Berezovsky. Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH.

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

4 pp. of a bifolium (2-1/2 pp. in purple ink, 1-1/2 pp. in pencil). Octavo. Addressed to "Eldosha" (nickname). Dated Gaspra, Crimea, 16 July 1924. In Cyrillic (with translation).

A very colorful, personal, cryptic, and at times somewhat obscene, letter, from the not quite 18-year-old composer in which he writes to his best friend, telling him that he misses him very much and sending his "review of Crimea," where he was sent to the spa town of Gaspra to recuperate after contracting tuberculosis in 1923.

The composer details his visit to the Vselenskii Cathedral where he admired the frescoes, stating "This artist deserves attention as an example of powerful and original talent." He then goes into detailed descriptions of each fresco in something of a stream-of-consciousness style, replete with wordplay and strong sexual references, including to Leonid Nikolayev, his piano teacher in Leningrad, as a homosexual.

With several minor autograph corrections.

Slightly worn and browned; creased at folds and very slightly overall; light brown staining to central portion; small hole to central fold, not affecting text.

Together with:
A block of 4 Russian commemorative stamps with a bust-length portrait of the composer and several bars of music.

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, abstract and pp. 272-3 in Zuk and Frolova-Walker, eds.: Russian Music Since 1917

An early letter, 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 #39405

Price: $3,800.00  other currencies

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