Life Chronicles

The vocal cycle “From Jewish Folk Poetry” was written in 1948. But the first public performances did not take place until 1955—on 15 January in Leningrad in the Maly Hall of the Philharmonic and on 20 January in Moscow in the Maly Hall of the Conservatory with the same cast of performers.
The First Concerto for Violin and Orchestra dedicated to David Fyodorovich Oistrakh was finished as early as 1948. But its premiere did not take place until seven years later on 29 October 1955 in the Grand Hall of the Leningrad Philharmonic as performed by David Oistrakh and the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by  Yevgeni Mravinsky.

January 15th - Premiere of the vocal cycle “From Jewish Folk Poetry” (ор.79).
October 29 - Premiere of Violin Concerto No.1 (ор.77).
November 9th - Death of the composer’s mother, S. Shostakovich.
Music for the film “The Gadfly” (ор.97).
Re-election as a deputy to the Supreme Soviet of the RSFSR.

“Sometimes I am asked about my attitude to my own compositions, specifically about symphonies. Usually I reply with an old Russian proverb: ‘Even the crooked child is loved by his mother and father’. You may see several flaws in you own compositions, but you still love them. If you don’t love your own work (which does not exclude the capacity to criticize it), if you are indifferent to the fruits of your labour, nothing will come of it. Therefore I shall not hide the fact that I am fond of almost all my compositions.”

April 14, 1955, Leningrad

“I cannot recover from this catastrophe that has befallen me. My wife used to protect and rescue me from all disasters and disappointments. Now she is gone and I keep expecting terrible blows and feel wretched and vulnerable. All this of course is stupid, but without her life is grim and horrible.
They say that time is the best teacher and so I put my trust in time. Time will pass and the sorrow will pass. Nothing’s passing yet.”

July 4, 1955, Komarovo

“<...> Recently what I have been regretting most is lost time. Money can be earned, can be borrowed, can be stolen. Yet time goes missing without trace and forever.”

October 4, 1955, Bolshevo

“Life is very packed. I am giving a lot of concerts, but without any particular pleasure. I still can’t get used to being on stage. It causes me a lot of bother and worry. When I reach the age of 50, I shall stop all concert appearances. I have not composed anything for a long time. This makes me very sad. Since my Tenth Symphony I have composed virtually nothing. I find it difficult to be on my own with the children. I am not equipped to bring them up and give them guidance.
Maxim finishes his schooling this year. What will become of him after that? All this makes me feel very uneasy.”

Galina Shostakovich,
the composer’s daughter:

“He used to worry about us a lot. If we were ill, he didn’t know where to put himself. When our mother died, I was 16 or 17 and he wanted everything in the household to run smoothly. At that time we had started going out with friends in the evenings. He used to demand that we were home by 11 o’clock sharp: ‘If you are late, even by 5 minutes, go to a telephone booth and ring to say you’ll be back in 20 minutes, but tell me exactly how long it will be.’ He would get very agitated and would not go to bed. He would open the door to us himself.”