String Quartet No. 2
Great Hall of the Leningrad Conservatoire. Beethoven Quartet.
1945, "Muzgiz" Publishers, Moscow.
The hand-written score is in the RNMM (Stack 32, Item 74); The author's piano score and drafts of the Quartet are in the Russian State Archive for Literature and Art (Stack 2048, Inv. 1, Item 29).
Dedication: “To Vissarion Yakovlevich Shebalin”
II. Recitative and Romance. Adagio
III. Waltz. Allegro
IV. Theme with variations. Adagio
String Quartet No. 2 arose on the crest of the creative upswing that Shostakovich experienced during the war years. On 13 August 1944, he finished the Second Trio for Piano, Violin and Cello, Op. 67, and almost immediately, it seems, began working on the next large chamber-ensemble work—String Quartet No. 2. The piano sketch of the quartet, judging from the pencil note on the first page, was finished on 2 September. Shostakovich finished the score of the first movement on 5 September and completed the second movement the next day. The score of the third movement was finished on 15 September, and the entire quartet was completed on 20 September. As early as 25 September, Shostakovich showed the new work to the musicians of the Beethoven Quartet in his Moscow apartment, after which they began learning it. The rehearsals continued for two months.
The premiere of Quartet No. 2 was held at the composer’s concert-portrait on 14 November 1944 in the Grand Hall of the Leningrad Philharmonic performed by the Beethoven Quartet. The Quartet was first performed by the same musicians and with the same programme on 28 November 1944 in the Grand Hall of the Moscow Conservatory. Soon thereafter the composer met with employees of Pravda (29 November) and Komsomolskaya pravda (14 December). And as early as 20 and 21 December, Quartet No. 2 was recorded by the Beethovens on a gramophone record at the Moscow House of Radio.
In the autumn of 1946, during a tour of the Beethoven Quartet (23 September-14 November), Shostakovich’s first two quartets were performed in East Germany. The British premiere was held on 13 November 1946 in London in a concert cycle organised by Boosey&Hawkes Publishers. The American premiere was given by the Fine Arts Quartet58: in 1946, Quartet No. 2 was performed by this ensemble on the radio, and on 15 February 1947, the concert premiere was held in New York.
The first edition of the score of Quartet No. 2 was published by Muzgiz in 1945 as Op. 69. The number of the opus was changed twenty years later when the first four quartets were published in four-hand piano natoli Dmitriyev (Muzyka Publishers, Moscow, Leningrad, 1965).
- Beethoven Quartet: Tsyganov D.M., Shirinsky V.P., Borisovsky V.V., Shirinsky S.P. 1956 // Melody D 015691-2, 1965
- Borodin Quartet: Dubinsky R.D., Aleksandrov Y.P., Shebalin D.V., Berlinsky V.A. 1967 // Melodiya Seraphim SIC-6034, 1967-1968
- Borodin Quartet: Dubinsky R.D., Aleksandrov Y.P., Shebalin D.V., Berlinsky V.A. 1967 // Melodia Eurodisc 76 649 XK, 76 639,
- Borodin Quartet: Dubinsky R.D., Aleksandrov Y.P., Shebalin D.V., Berlinsky V.A. 1967 // Melody MG 087129, D-019213-14, 1967
- Borodin Quartet: Kopelman M., Abramenkov A., Shebalin D.V., Berlinsky V.A. 1982 // HMV Melodiya EX 270339 E 2703401, 1986
- Brodsky Quartet: Thomas M., Belton I., Cassidy P., Thomas J. 1989 // TELDEC 9031-71702-2, 1990
- State String Quartet of Georgia: Vardeli K., Batiashvili T., Zhvania N., Chubinishvili O. 1981 // PRAGA PR 254 042, 1994
- Shostakovich Quartet: Shishlov A.A., Pishchugin S., Galkovsky A.V., Korchagin A.A. 1984 // OLYMPIA OCD 532, 1994
- Fitzwilliam Quartet: C. Rowland, J. Spary, A. George, I. Davis. 1979 // LONDON 455 777-2 (Set 455 776-2), 1998