Works Piano Compositions

Piano Sonata No. 1

Opus 11 Opus 13

Opus 12
1926 year

Piano Sonata No. 1
Sonata No 1. Op. 12. Sonata No 2. Op. 61.


Leningrad Philharmonic Small Hall, Dmitri Shostakovich

first publication:

Moscow, Muzgiz


RSALA, rec. gr. 653, inv. 1, f. 2264

Piano Sonata No. 1
Op. 12

In one movement: Allegro—Lento—Allegro
Duration: 13'

  The composer had the idea of composing a sonata at the beginning of his studenthood. A piano sonata in B minor, which has survived in part, was the first serious attempt of this kind.
  The next sonata-related subject matter dates to 1925. Shostakovich writes about it in a letter to Yavorsky of 27 June 1925: “I am thinking now about the future piano sonata I would like to write. …I am thinking about writing a big sonata, in Liszt’s style. But I am still not sure if it will have one movement, or two, or three, or more. In any case, I really want to write one like that.”
  Finally, in the autumn of the next year, 1926, work began on the First Sonata. This work came at the time the young composer was recovering from a creative crisis he experienced after graduating from the conservatory.
  Some episodes from the story of how the First Sonata was composed are known from the “Questionnaire on the Psychology of the Creative Process”, which Shostakovich filled out on 2‑10 September 1927 at the request of Roman Gruber, as well as from his letters to Yavorsky. We read in item 16 of the “Questionnaire” called “The Creative Act”: “Piano sonata. The preparatory stage lasted a few minutes. In these few minutes, I already had a fairly clear idea of the entire future composition.”
  The first public performance of the Sonata was held on 2 December 1926 in the Small Hall of the Leningrad Philharmonic.
  The December performances of the Sonata in Leningrad were followed by performances in Moscow on 12 January 1927 in the Hall of the State Academy of Artistic Sciences at the 4th performance assembly of the Association of Contemporary Music and in Warsaw on 5 February 1927 at a joint recital featuring Shostakovich and Lev Oborin, the prize-winners of the Chopin competition.
  The Sonata was published shortly after work on it was finished. While the previous compositions, including Three Fantastic Dances for Piano, were published on the initiative and with the active participation of Maximilian Steinberg, who was Shostakovich’s composition teacher, this time, things were different.
  The report by Aleksandr Ossovsky, vice-rector for scholarly work of the Leningrad Conservatory, for 1926-1927, informed about the intensive work of “extraordinarily gifted composer Dmitri Shostakovich” and about how his “tempestuous self-assertive personality does not sit well with the observations and supervision of his professor and supervisor, Maximilian Steinberg, whereby Shostakovich’s compositions often see the light <sic!> not only without the participation, but also without the knowledge of his professor.”
  On 23 November 1926, Shostakovich played the Sonata at the Music Sector of State Publishers, and by March 1927, it was out of print. On 6 May of the same year, Shostakovich told Yavorsky that the Sonata “has been entirely sold out”: the author could not buy the sheet music to send it to Moscow.
  As follows from the review of Shostakovich’s sonata ideas, Op. 12 was in no way his first attempt at writing a piano sonata; furthermore, this composition was written after the First Symphony with a sonata Allegro in the first movement. Nevertheless, Shostakovich would still have to work on his attitude towards this genre.


  • Anatoli Vedernikov. 1968 // Melodiya D025805-6 (1969) 
  • Viktoria Postnikova. 1982 // Melodiya C10 17985-6 (1983)
  • Igor Khudolei. 1982 // Melodiya C10 18977 007 (1983)