Symphony No. 6
Leningrad Philharmonic Bolshoi Hall; Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra, Yevgeni Mravinsky (conductor)
Moscow, Leningrad, Muzgiz, 1941
Autograph score is lost. Autograph of fragments of the score and arrangement for two pianos by the composer preserved at the Glinka All-Russia Museum Association of Musical Culture (rec. gr. 32, f. 67, 274).
Premiere: November 5, 1939. Great Hall of the Leningrad Philharmonia. Academic Symphony Orchestra of the Leningrad Philharmonia. Conductor Y. Mravinsky.
Premiere abroad: November 1940. Philadelphia Orchestra. Conductor. L. Stokowski.
First Edition: the score of Symphony No.6 was published in 1941 by "Muzgiz" Publishers, Moscow.
"The nature of the music in the Sixth Symphony will differ in mood and emotional tone from the Fifth Symphony, which was distinguished by moments of tragedy and tension.
In the later symphony music of a contemplative and lyrical kind predominates. I sought to convey in it moods of spring, joy and youthfulness".
Symphony No 6
The Sixth Symphony in В minor, Op. 54, was written in 1939. Details of the work on this composition are not known, but in a long interview at the end of 1940, Shostakovich said that he wrote the Sixth Symphony between two chamber opuses, the First Quartet and the Piano Quintet. The score of the First Quartet was finished on 17 July 1939. So we can state with confidence that Shostakovich began work on the Sixth Symphony somewhere during the second half of July.
On 27 August, Shostakovich, as the newspaper Vechernyaya Moskva reported, “acquainted the directors of the Leningrad Philharmonic with his latest work—the Sixth Symphony. The composer played excerpts from the symphony’s first two movements. The new musical composition ... made an immense impression on all those in attendance.” At the same time, at the end of August, the composer stated that all work on the Sixth Symphony, conceived in ternary form, “was coming to an end”.
Finally, on 20 October, the composer talked about the Sixth Symphony as a finished work requiring only a few “finishing touches”. The composer gave a description of the content of his new symphony in the interview for Leningradskaya pravda (even before the finale was written): “In the nature of its music, the Sixth Symphony will differ in mood and emotional tone from the Fifth Symphony, in which elements of tragedy and tension were prevalent. In this latest symphony, inspiring and lyrical music predominates. I want to convey a mood of spring, joy, and youth in it.”
The premiere of the Sixth Symphony was held in the Grand Hall of the Leningrad Philharmonic on 5 November 1939. Yevgeni Mravinsky conducted the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra. The symphony was heard in Moscow for the first time on 3 December 1939 in the Grand Hall of the Conservatory as performed by the USSR State Symphony Orchestra and conducted by Yevgeni Mravinsky. In November 1940, the Sixth Symphony was performed for the first time in the USA by the Philadelphia Orchestra with Leopold Stokowski as conductor.
- Philadelphia Orchestra, Leopold Stokowski. 1940 // Victor 18391-5, 1940
- Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra, Yevgeni Mravinsky. 1946 // MK HD 2488-9, 1955
- London Philharmonic Orchestra, Sir Adrian Boult. 1958 // World Record Club SCM 28, 1962
- Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra, Aleksandr Gauk. 1959 // MK D4894-5
- New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Leonard Bernstein. 1963 // Columbia MS 7221
- Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, Kirill Kondrashin. 1967 // Melodiya C01627-8, 1967
- Philadelphia Orchestra, Eugene Ormandy. 1969 // Philadelphia Orchestra Association POA 100, 2000
- Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra, Yuri Temirkanov. P 1977 // Melodiya C10 09675-6, 1978
- Berlin City Symphony Orchestra, Kurt Sanderling. 1979 // Eterna 8 27 437
- USSR Symphony Orchestra, Yevgeni Svetlanov. P 1980 // Melodiya C10 14899-900, 1981
- BBC Symphony Orchestra, Gennadi Rozhdestvensky. 1980 // BBC Legends BBCL 4242-2, 2008
- Concertgebouw Orchestra, Bernard Haitink. 1983 // Decca 414 125-1DH, 1985
- Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra, Vladimir Fedoseyev. 1992 // Musica Classica 780003-2, 1996.
- National Symphony Orchestra of Washington, Mstislav Rostropovich. 1994 // Teldec 0630-17046-2, 1997
- Prague Symphony Orchestra, Maksim Shostakovich. 1999 // Supraphon SU 3415-2, 1999
- Russian State Symphony Orchestra, Valeri Polansky. 1999 // Chandos CHAN 9813, 2001
- Kirov Orchestra, Valery Gergiev. 2002 // Philips 470 841-2PM5, 2006.
- Russian National Orchestra, Vladimir Jurowskyi. 2004 // Pentatone PTC 5186 068, 2006
- Tatarstan National Symphony Orchestra. Alexander Sladkovsky. 2017 // Melodiya. MEL CD 1002470, 2017 (13 CDs)