Works Film Music

“Sofya Perovskaya”. Music to the film

Opus 131 Opus 133

Opus 132
1967 year

“Sofya Perovskaya”. Op. 132. “King Lear”. Op. 137


“Mosfilm” studios. Scriptwriters: Y. Gabrilovch. L. Arnshtam. Director: L. Arnshtam.

first publication:

1967. D. Shostakovich, Collected Works, Vol. 42, Moscow.


In the archive of the composer’s family.

Sofya Perovskaya
Music to the film

     The film Sofya Perovskaya was done at the Mosfilm studio in 1967 by film director Leo Arnshtam with his and Yevgeni Gabrilovich’s joint script. The film’s protagonist is one of the main participants in the Narodnaya Volya (People’s Will) terrorist group that murdered Aleksandr II in 1881. This was Arnshtam’s last film. The composer, as in most of his films, was Dmitri Shostakovich.
     There is not enough information to pinpoint the date exactly; in the handwritten documents, there is only one chronological note—the date ‘4/XI’, written by an unidentified person on the first page of No. 2 of the author’s manuscript of the score (the boys’ choir from the first part of the film).
     The composer was forced to write without seeing the filmed material, guided only by his imagination and, of course, his immense experience not only with film work in general, but also with working with Arnshtam, including knowledge of his cinematographic habits and an excellent, quick understanding of his ideas.
     We know that Shostakovich did not participate either in the recording, or in the rerecording and did not hear the result of his composition until he saw the finished film.
     Work on the film Sofya Perovskaya was apparently completed at the beginning of 1968 and the film released on 6 May 1968.
     In 1987, selected items from the score of the film were printed by Muzyka Publishers in Vol. 42 of Dmitri Shostakovich’s Collected Works.
     In 1997, conductor Walter Mnatsakanov recorded all the published items of music to the film with the Belarusian Radio and TV Symphony Orchestra (RD CD 10 018).