Works Chamber Instrumental Ensembles

String Quartet No.13

Opus 137 Opus 139

Opus 138
1970 year

Quartet No.13 Score
Quartet No.13 Parts
Dmitri Shostakovich’s String Quartets Nos. 13-15


December 13, 1970. Leningrad. Small Hall of the Philharmonic. On December 20, 1970 the quartet was performed for the first time in Moscow, in the Small Hall of the Conservatoire by the Beethoven Quartet.

first publication:

1972. Score, “Muzyka” Publishers, Moscow.


The hand-written score is in the archive of B. Borisovsky’s family.

Dedication: “To Vadim Vasilievich Borisovsky”
Duration: 18’

Thirteenth string Quartet
in b flat minor, Op. 138


     Shostakovich began writing the Thirteenth Quartet in the autumn of 1969.
     The composer dedicated the Thirteenth Quartet to Vadim Vasilyevich Borisovsky, the violist of the Beethoven Quartet.
     By the time he began composing the Thirteenth Quartet, Shostakovich had decided to dedicate one work to each member of the Beethoven Quartet. The Third (1946) and Fifth (1952) Quartets had already been dedicated to the Beethoven Quartet as a whole; after Vasiliy Shirinsky passed away in 1965, the Eleventh Quartet (1966) was dedicated to his memory, and the next one, the Twelfth (1968), to the permanent leader Dmitri Tsyganov.
     On 10 August 1970, the work on the Thirteenth Quartet was over.
     On 4 September 1970, Shostakovich wrote to Vadim Borisovsky: “I am in Kurgan again. I am continuing my treatment. I will be here for about another month. I ask you to accept my belated gift. It is the 13th Quartet, which I am dedicating to you. I will send it to you in a few days. Due to my departure from Moscow, rewriting the score and parts has become complicated. After I look at them and do the proofreading, I ask you to accept my manuscript as a gift, as a gesture of my love and admiration. No one looks a gift horse in the mouth. But all the same, I hope you will take kindly to the Quartet.” Above the first music system Shostakovich wrote: “Dedicated to Vadim Vasilyevich Borisovsky”, and later he wrote a dedication on the title sheet of the author’s manuscript: “To dear Vadim Vasilyevich / Borisovsky with the fondest love from / DShostakovich. 18 September 1970 / Kurgan”.
     The Beethoven Quartet (Dmitri Tsyganov, Nikolay Zabavnikov, Fedor Druzhinin and Sergey Shirinsky) started rehearsing thenew composition at the beginning of November and revived rehearsals, which had been interrupted by a tour, at the beginning of December; the composer was present at the first and several later rehearsals; a hearing and discussion of the Quartet was held on 11 December 1970 at the RSFSR Union of Composers. Before the performance, the author made some opening remarks. The Quartet was played twice.
     The premiere took place on 13 December 1970 in Leningrad in the Small Hall of the Philharmonic; at the request of the audience, the Quartet was played again (“The entire audience rose at the end of the new Quartet and stood until the composition was played in its entirety a second time”); the Quartet was also encored at its first Moscow performance in the Small Hall of the Conservatory a week later.
     In 1971, a small number of collotype copies of the score and parts was issued by the USSR Music Foundation, and the Beethoven Quartet did the first gramophone record of the Thirteenth Quartet. Soon thereafter, the score and parts were published (Muzyka, Moscow, 1972), and a few years later Aleksandr Dmitriyev’s arrangement for piano four hands came out in Volume 4 of the Dmitri Shostakovich. Quartets series (Muzyka, Leningrad, 1976).


  • Krysa O., Kravchuk A., Venzhega A., Potapov V. 1977 // Melody S 10-09337-8, 1978
  • Borodin Quartet: Kopelman M., Abramenkov A., Shebalin D.V., Berlinsky V.A. 1981 // Melody C10-17375-6, 1982
  • Borodin Quartet: Dubinsky R.D., Aleksandrov Y.P., Shebalin D.V., Berlinsky V.A. 1972 // Melody СМ 03223-4, 1972, 1978 (?)
  • Sukovo kvarteto: Novák A., Jouza V., Řehák K., Štros J. 1973 // Panton 11 0420 G, 1973
  • Borodin Quartet: Kopelman M., Abramenkov A., Shebalin D.V., Berlinsky V.A. 1981 // HMV Melodiya EX 270339 E 2703401, 1986
  • Brodsky Quartet: Thomas M., Belton I., Cassidy P., Thomas J. 1989 // TELDEC 9031-71702-2, 1990
  • Fitzwilliam Quartet: C. Rowland, J. Spary, A. George, I. Davis. 1975 // LONDON 455 781-2 (Set 455 776-2), 1998
  • Shostakovich Quartet: Shishlov A.A., Pishchugin S., Galkovsky A.V., Korchagin A.A. 1980 // OLYMPIA OCD 535, 1994
  • Beethoven Quartet: Tsyganov D.M., Zabavnikov N., Druzhinin F.S., Shirinsky S.P. 1971 // CONSONANS 81-3008, 1995
  • Quartet No. 13. Op. 138. Arrangement by A. Tchaikovsky for viola and strings. Soloists of Moscow. Conductor: Bashmet Yu.A. 1998 // SONY CLASSICAL SK 60550, 1998