Life Chronicles

Moscow city. The building of the House of Unions. Secretary General of the Union of Soviet Composers T. Khrennikov opens the gala evening on the occasion of the International Peace Prize D.D. Shostakovich. World Secretary of the World Council Jean Laffitte speaks, presents the prize to D.D. Shostakovich. Speakers: N. Hikmet, I. Ehrenburg, A. Khachaturian, D. Shostakovich. On the podium: Jean Laffitte, Nazym Hikmet, T. Khrennikov, Ivor Montague, A.I. Oparin, I. Erenburg.

November 6th - “Festive Overture” (ор.96).
November 14th - Premiere of Symphony No.10 in the USA (ор.93).
Award to Shostakovich of the International Peace Prize.
Shostakovich made People’s Artist of the USSR.
December 4th - death of the composer’s wife, Nina Shostakovich.

“I feel that the hero of this work is some kind of frightened intellectual who is afraid of life. Life appears to him like a terrible nightmare causing him to cry out and to squeal, because this symphony is full of neurotic spasms. All that surrounds the hero seems to be perceived in this light, as if there is not even any way out, and even the isolated patches of light, which the music contains, are of a rather infantile nature...
This symphony can never serve to reflect our reality, it is a distorting mirror for that reality...”

Summer 1954

“I have a request to put to you: I have written some Romances to words by E. Dolmatovsky. I am very keen to acquaint you with my attempt to write romances. If this attempt does not make you object, then I should be very happy if you would sing them. I realize that many composers turn to you with this kind of request and that you are fed up with them and so on. I am not very confident that you will agree, but I still haven’t given up hope. Please accept my very best wishes, D. Shostakovich.”

Maxim Shostakovich, 
son of the composer:

“As long as our mother was alive, our family felt safe. My father was a very strong man when it came to inner resources, but for everyday life he was not well-equipped.
During my father’s life there were many times when he was being held aloft, was given medals and also times, when he was being persecuted and his music was banned.
Mother was the protector, the guardian of our family, of our home and of our father. She made it possible for him to go on composing. She could manage everything, she loved what she did, she knew how to organize everything. That was a talent! A rare talent for life! That was why, when she was gone, it was like a blow from Fate.
Our father was left behind with children, who still needed care, affection and attention. He wasn’t prepared for it. He suffered a great deal. He mobilized all his energies, all his strength in order to continue the long voyage of our household and to make that voyage as painless as possible for his children.
The children for him were everything. I remember that Father would never take an apple from the table, if the children were present. He could never take something for himself, without making sure that it was not needed by other people more than by him, especially things like fruit - and in those days things like that were hard to come by.
He was a marvellous father. Mother had been marvellous as well. I am happy to have grown up with them.”