Works Chamber Compositions for Voice and Songs

Six Songs on Poems by Marina Tsvetaeva. Suite for Contralto and Piano

Opus 142 Opus 143a

Opus 143
1973 year

Dmitri Shostakovich’s Compositions for Solo Voice(s).


October 30, 1973. Great Hall of the Leningrad Philharmonia. Performed by I. Bogachova and S. Vakman.

first publication:

1974. “Muzyka” Publishers, Moscow.


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

Duraion: 18'

Six Songs on Poems by Marina Tsvetaeva
Suite for Contralto and Piano

     The vocal cycle Six Songs on Poems by Marina Tsvetayeva was written at the beginning of August 1973 in the Estonian city of Pärnu, where Shostakovich was on holiday. The author’s manuscript of the piano score gives the exact days each romance was written: ‘My Poetry’ (1 August), ‘Whence Comes This Tenderness?’ (2 August), ‘Hamlet’s Dialogue with His Conscience’ (3 August), ‘The Poet and the Tsar’ and ‘No, Sounded the Drum…’ (6 August) and ‘To Anna Akhmatova’ (7 August).
     According to Shostakovich himself, the literary source was Tsvetayeva’s Selected Poetry put out by Sovetsky pisatel Publishers (Moscow, Leningrad) in 1965.
     The Leningrad premiere was held on 30 October 1973 in the Great Hall of the Philharmonic. The first performers of the cycle - I.P. Bogacheva and S.B. Wackman. 12 November 1973, the cycle was performed again in the Glinka Small Hall of the Leningrad Philharmonic (with the same performers). The concert was recorded on tape, which is kept in Dmitri Shostakovich’s Archive. The first performance in Moscow was held on 27 December 1973 in the Small Hall of the Conservatory.
     In 1976, the first performances of the cycle were held in other Soviet cities—Minsk, Kiev and Kislovodsk.
     Following the version for voice and piano, the cycle’s orchestral version was done under Op. 143a. It was completed on 9 January 1974, as indicated by the date at the end of the author’s manuscript of the score. The premiere of the version for contralto and chamber orchestra was held on 15 June 1974 in the Small Hall of the Moscow Conservatory performed by Irina Bogacheva and the Moscow Chamber Orchestra un­ der the baton of Rudolf Barshai. In 1975, the cycle was included in the repertoire of the Kiev Chamber Orchestra, about which its art director and conductor Igor Blazhkov informed Shostakovich in a letter on 3 April 1975. Blazhkov conducted the romances during the following concert season on 13 May 1976 in Kiev, with Tamara Kalustian performing the solo part.
     The first premieres of the cycle abroad took place at the end of the 1970s.
     The cycle’s first studio recordings were done on 5 April 1974 (version with piano) and in July 1974 (version with orchestra). Both versions were recorded with the participation of their first performers.
     Muzfond first published a collotype edition of the piano score of the Tsvetayeva cycle in 1974. The first romance in this edition had a different title than the one in the author’s manu­ script; it was called ‘My Verse’. Muzfond also published a collotype edition of the score of the suite with a corrected version of the name of the first item. Following this, the suite was published in a collection of Shostakovich’s vocal works put out by Muzyka Publishers (Moscow, 1974). A year later, the version for voice and piano was printed again by Muzyka in a separate edition. Later, the full score and piano score of the Tsvetayeva romances were published in Volume 31 (Muzyka Publishers, Moscow, 1982) and Volume 33 (Muzyka Publishers, Moscow, 1984) of Dmitri Shostakovich’s Collected Works, respectively. The last Russian edition of the piano score was published in the composer’s New Collected Works (Vol. 92, DSCH, Moscow, 2010).
     The foreign editions of the piano score were published by Peters (1978), G. Schirmer (1979) and Zen­on Music (1992).


  • Bogacheva I.P., Wakman S.B. (piano) 1974 // Melodia S 10-05137-8, 1975
  • Bogacheva I.P., Wakman S.B. (piano) 1974 // Melodia Eurodisc 89 803 XDK