Academic journal article Notes

Sketching the Symphonies: A Brief Report on Shostakovich's Manuscripts in Moscow

Academic journal article Notes

Sketching the Symphonies: A Brief Report on Shostakovich's Manuscripts in Moscow

Article excerpt

Almost thirty years after Shostakovich's death in 1975, the composer's sketch materials began to emerge in archives in Moscow. Manashir IAkubov, the late curator of the Shostakovich family private archive, announced the discovery in 2002 in the opening volumes of the New Collected Works edition of Shostakovich's music, and subsequently devoted much of his remaining professional life to organizing the sketches and preparing the New Collected Works for publication.1 Meanwhile, the archivist Olga Digonskaia (Digonskaya)2 began to uncover and identify hundreds of Shostakovich's manuscripts in the Glinka State Museum of Musical Culture (Gosudarstvennyï tsentral'nyï muzeï muzykal'noï kul'tury imeni M. I. Glinki: GTsMMK) and the Russian State Archive of Literature and Art (Rossiïskiï gosudarstvennyï arkhiv literatury i iskusstva: RGALI).3 Such manuscript sketches illuminated Shostakovich's creative process in different genres, at different periods of his career, and through different working methods. Lack of exposure and organization, however, made it difficult to assess the emerging collection, and fourteen years later many challenges persist. The collection's extent, the forces that shaped it, and the circumstances of its formation are not fully known. As the record is still being found and shaped, even the identity of the materials as a collection is very much in progress.

Within this context, an account of selected manuscripts can offer an important step in tracing the emerging collection and its significance for scholars and performers of Shostakovich's music. I report here on sketch materials for the symphonies-a group of manuscripts that Russian archivists have largely identified and cataloged and that allows comparison of materials across a single genre. Partial or complete sets of sketches exist for fourteen of Shostakovich's fifteen published symphonies (Nos. 1-5 and 7-15, with rumors of sketches for Symphony no. 6 as well), and the materials as a whole illuminate the types of manuscripts and methods of sketching that Shostakovich used in major works. While the place of these documents within the broader collection is not yet fully known, this account of the symphonic sketches offers a glimpse into Shostakovich's creative process, allowing us to observe compositional patterns, reconstruct creative moments, and understand some of the composer's curatorial decisions about his music.

PROVENANCE AND PATHS OF TRANSMISSION

Shostakovich's sketches for his symphonies are held in RGALI and the Glinka Museum, with facsimiles and some original manuscripts also preserved in the Dmitri Shostakovich Archive. Matters of provenance are somewhat opaque for these documents. We know that state archives in Moscow began to receive Shostakovich's compositional documents during the composer's lifetime, but we do not know precisely what was in the deposits. Levon Atovmian (Atovm'yan), the composer's friend and music editor, collected papers and manuscripts from Shostakovich (and sometimes from his housekeeper)4; these documents included sketches and drafts, which made their way into the Glinka Museum in 1964.5 Around the same time, musicologist Grigoriï Shneerson (Grigoriy Shneyerson), with whom Shostakovich had corresponded for nearly twenty years, also gave the museum a large collection of documents, which included "musical manuscripts."6 The extent of Atovmian's and Shneerson's donations, however, is not clear, nor the number of sketches in their possession, the degree of randomness or cohesion among documents, or the conditions whereby they were received and preserved; nor do we know how many similar donations the archive received. These gaps make it difficult to assess how the collection of Shostakovich's manuscripts came into existence, or to what extent individuals and institutions have shaped (and are shaping) the historical narrative.

Until the last fifteen years, the scholarly record contained no discussion of Shostakovich's sketch materials, only denials that he ever sketched. …

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