Works Choral Compositions

“Loyalty”. Eight Ballads for Male Choir a capella

Opus 135 Opus 137

Opus 136
1970 year

“Loyalty”.  Op. 136.


December 5, 1970. Concert Hall “Estonia”. State Academic Male Chorus of the Estonian SSR. The Moscow premiere of the cycle of ballads “Loyalty” took place on February 25, 1971 in the Great Hall of the Conservatoire with the same performers. Conductor G. Ernesaks.

first publication:

1970. “Muzyka” Publishers, Moscow.


The hand-written score is in the archive of the composer’s family

The work was written for the centenary of Lenin’s birth. Completed on February 13, 1970
Dedication: “To Gustav Gustavovich Ernesaks”
Duration: 25’ 

“In this historic year, the centenary of Lenin’s birth, each of us is obliged to look back over his past life, to make a close study of the current state of art in our country and to note what plans there are for the future. <...> Lenin’s life and work have always been, are and will be an inspiring example for us - the builders of Soviet culture. <...> We have to create works that are worthy of our great, immortal leader - Vladimir Ilyich Lenin.”

Eight Ballads for Male Choir a capella
Words by Yevgeni Dolmatovsky

     Loyalty—Eight Ballads for Male Choir—was written in the winter of 1970. It was composed for the 100th anniversary of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin’s birth.
     The ballads were written for male choir a cappella.
     The composer decided to dedicate the future composition to Gustav Ernesaks and his outstanding choir—the State Academic Male Voice Choir of the Estonian SSR, whose art the composer truly admired.
     The precise date work began on the cycle has not been established. Only the date it was finished is given in the author’s manuscripts—at the end of the hand-written score, Shostakovich wrote, ‘13 february 1970’.
     The first performance was held on 5 December 1970 in the Concert Hall of the Estonian Philharmonic. It was the 3,000th appearance of the Estonian State Academic Male Voice Choir under the baton of Ernesaks.
     The first performance in Moscow was held on 25 february 1971 in the Grand Hall of the Conservatory (with the same performers) in the author’s presence.
     All the major newspapers wrote about the premiere of Loyalty. After the Moscow concert, articles and comments appeared in the national press—in Pravda, Izvestia, Vechernyaya Moskva and Sovetskaya kultura.
     On 26 March, the ballads were first performed in Leningrad in the Concert Hall of the Glinka Academic Cappella within the framework of the ‘For the 24th Congress of the CPSU’ concert cycle. Other performers participated in this premiere—the male choir of the Leningrad Academic Cappella under the direction of Fedor Kozlov.
     In 1974, the Loyalty ballads were awarded a prestigious government prize—the Glinka State Prize of the RSFSR.
     The only recording of the cycle was done during the composer’s lifetime, in 1971 (the Estonian SSR State Academic Male Voice Choir, conductor Gustav Ernesaks). In 1974, the same performance was reissued by the American company Angel Melodiya (SR-40245).
     The first publications of the cycle came out in 1970, even before the premiere. Three of the ballads—‘In Some Immemorial Year’, ‘“People Believing in the flame’ and ‘On Meetings of the Young Generation’— were published in the journal Sovetskaya muzyka (No. 9, 1970). following them, the choral score was published (Muzyka Publishers, Moscow, 1970). Two copies of the score of Loyalty without the publisher’s imprint and the above-mentioned music with an inscription by Shostakovich to Ernesaks of 22 March 1970 (with the manufacturer’s trademark ‘Eesti maaehitusprojekt’ Rotaprint, 1970) are kept in Dmitri Shostakovich’s Archive. Outstanding choir conductor Vladislav Sokolov included his own arrangement of one of the ballads (‘I Want to Learn All about Him’) for children’s choir in the collection Crimson Stars. Songs and Choruses for Schoolchildren (Muzyka Publishers, Moscow, 1979). The ballad ‘In Some Immemorial Year’ was included in the collection The Estonian SSR State Academic Male Voice Choir Sings (Sovetsky kompozitor, Moscow, 1983). In 1985, the cycle was published in Vol. 34 of Shostakovich’s Collected Works (Muzyka Publishers, Moscow). The foreign edition of Loyalty was published in 1999 by Zen-On and G. Schirmer (jointly) and was accompanied by texts of the ballads in Russian and Japanese.


  • State Academic Male Choir of the Estonian SSR. Conductor: G. Ernesaks. 1971 // Angel Melodiya SR-40245, 1974