Works Chamber Instrumental Ensembles

String Quartet No. 9

Opus 116 Opus 118

Opus 117
1964 year

Quartet No.9 Score
Quartet No.9 Parts
Dmitri Shostakovich’s String Quartets Nos. 7-9


Moscow. Small Hall of the Conservatoire. Performed by the Beethoven Quartet.

first publication:

1964. Score, “Muzyka” Publishers, Moscow.


Score in the Russian State Archive for Literature and Art (Stack 2048, Inv.3, Item 3). Drafts in the archive of the composer’s family.

Dedication: “To Irina Antonovna Shostakovich”
Duration: 26’

String Quartet No. 9 
in E-flat major
op. 117

I. Moderato con moto
II. Adagio
III. Allegretto
IV. Adagio
VI. Allegro

   At the turn of the 1950s and 1960s, in Shostakovich’s works (in the Eleventh and Twelfth Symphonies, “Overture on Russian and Kirghiz Folk Themes”, the poem “Execution of Stepan Razin”) widely reveal themes related to the heroic revolutionary past and Russian history. But close attention to distant eras, to events of a global scale and universal significance, was accompanied by an appeal to the depths of a person’s personal memory, to the original foundations of spiritual life. In simple sound images, in the most ordinary, elementary intonations, the composer reveals an amazing volume of meaning, a wealth of emotional colors, reveals their eternal freshness and beauty. In this combination of simple and polysemous, long-familiar and unexpectedly new - the captivating power of many works of the last decade of Shostakovich, especially the late quartets.
   The five-part cycle of the Ninth Quartet is notable for its original drama logic. True, in the ratio of its extreme parts - the laconic, calm first, which plays the role of an introduction, and the fast, widely developed ending - there is something in common with what was written a quarter of a century before the Ninth Quartet: the same transition from quiet contemplation to active action. But the three middle parts, forming a small cycle inside the big one, bring dramatic pathos, irony, and tragedy into the quartet’s music - a conflicting principle that is completely absent in Shostakovich’s quartet firstborn.
   Quartet No. 9 was written between May 2 and 28, 1964. In June of that year, the author introduced this work to members of the Beethoven Quartet.
   The quartet is dedicated to Irina Antonovna Shostakovich.


  • Borodin Quartet: M. Kopelman, A. Abramenkov, D. Shebalin, V. Berlinsky 1981 // Melodia C10 21943 000, 1984