Symphony No. 9
Leningrad Philharmonic Bolshoi Hall, Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra, Yevgeni Mravinsky (conductor)
RSALA (rec. gr. 2048, inv. 1, f. 12)
Premieres: November 3, 1945. Great Hall of the Leningrad Philharmonia. Academic Symphony Orchestra of the Leningrad Philharmonia. Conductor Y. Mravinsky.
Premiere in Moscow: November of the same year.
June 25, 27, 28, 1946. Tanglewood. Boston Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: S. Koussevitzky.
November 6, 1946. London. Conductor M. Sargent.
May 19, 1947. Prague. Conductor R. Kubelik,
also Vienna (I. Orizh), Paris (M. Rosenthal).
"The Ninth Symphony is very different in character from my previous symphonies, the Seventh and Eighth. While the Seventh and Eighth Symphonies were of a tragic-heroic nature, the predominant mood of the Ninth is transparent and clear."
Symphony No 9
Thus, it took Shostakovich about one month to write the score for his shortest symphony.
Final polishing of the score continued right up until the premiere of the symphony. During rehearsals, the composer clarified certain details and removed small inaccuracies in the script.
Meanwhile, the USSR Musical Foundation began preparing the first, collotyped edition of the score of the Ninth Symphony even before its premiere. Since news of the new symphony rapidly spread around the world, the All-Union Society of International Cultural Relations (VOKS) began receiving requests for its performance. Shostakovich objected to sending out the Musical Foundation edition of the score before the premiere.
The collotyped edition of the score was published on 15 December 1945, but when the small number of copies came out, it transpired that the metronome marks were missing. On 1 April 1946, Shostakovich finished correcting the new edition of the symphony, as prepared by the State Music Publishing House, and demanded a second proof-reading. On 4 June, this edition was sent to the press.
The premiere of the Ninth Symphony was held on 3 November 1945; it was performed by the Leningrad Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra in the Grand Hall of the Leningrad Philharmonic with Yevgeni Mravinsky as conductor. The symphony was first performed in Moscow on 20 November 1945 in the Grand Hall of the Moscow Conservatory by the USSR State Symphony Orchestra, also under the baton of Mravinsky.
Shostakovich highly praised the Moscow performance. “My Ninth Symphony is very difficult to perform,” he wrote. “But from the very first rehearsals, the orchestra dealt easily with all the technical difficulties and achieved a high level of artistry and expressiveness. This symphony also has a number of solos, there are big solos for all the woodwind instruments, the trumpet, the trombones, and the violin. These solos should be free, expressive, and light.”
The Ninth Symphony was not retained in Mravinsky’s repertoire, but immediately after the premiere, it was actively performed by other conductors; in particular, Alexander Gauk played it as early as January 1946 with the All-Union Radio Orchestra.
The Soviet premiere was followed by performances of the symphony abroad, in Prague (conductor Rafael Kubelik), Paris (Manuel Rosenthal), London (Basil Cameron), Vienna (Josef Krips), Berlin (Manuel Rosenthal), and others.
In the US, the Boston Symphony Orchestra received the honour of performing the Ninth Symphony with Serge Koussevitzky as conductor. Koussevitzky invited Shostakovich to the premiere. Shostakovich did not make this trip to America. The Ninth Symphony was first performed in the US on 25 July 1946 at the Berkshire Festival in Tanglewood by the Boston Symphony Orchestra conducted by Serge Koussevitzky (the concert programme also included movements from Pictures from an Exhibition by Modest Musorgsky, as instrumented by Ravel, and Beethoven’s Third (Heroic) Symphony. On 27 and 28 July, the same concert programme was performed again.
Koussevitzky sent Shostakovich a test recording of the symphony. The conductor apparently used the above-mentioned first (collotyped) edition of the score without metronome marks. As a result, his tempos differed greatly from the author’s, and the symphony performance lasted 28 minutes instead of 22. Shostakovich objected to publication of this recording, and Koussevitzky made a new one.
Later, recordings of the Ninth Symphony were made by many well-known conductors, including Karel Ančerl, Leonard Bernstein, Kirill Kondrashin, Efrem Kurtz, David Oistrakh, Gennadi Rozhdestvensky, Manuel Rosenthal, Mstislav Rostropovich, Yevgeni Svetlanov, Bernard Haitink, Sergiu Celibidache, and Sir Georg Solti.
- Boston Symphony Orchestra, Serge Koussevitzky. 1946 // V-Disc 716-8
- Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Sergiu Celibidache. 1947 // Tahra TAH 290
- Orchestra Sinfonica di Torino della Radiotelevision Italina, Otto Klemperer. 1955 // Fonit-Cetra Archive Rai LAR 37, 1983
- Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra, Aleksandr Gauk. 1956 // MK D03402-3
- London Symphony Orchestra, Sir Malcolm Sargent. 1959 // Everest LPBR 6054 (mono) and SDBR 3054
- Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, Kirill Kondrashin. 1965 // Melodiya D016471-2 (mono) and C01109-10. 1966
- New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Leonard Bernstein. 1965 // Columbia M 31307, 1974
- Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Karel Anćerl. 1966 // Praga PR 254 002-3, 1992
- USSR Symphony Orchestra, David Oistrakh. 1969 // Russian Disc RDCD 11 192, 1993
- Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Ladislav Slovak. 1975 // Opus 9110 0382
- USSR Symphony Orchestra, Yevgeni Svetlanov. 1978 // Melodiya C10 10399-400, 1978
- London Philharmonic Orchestra, Bernard Haitink. 1979 // Decca SXDL 7515, 1981
- Concertgebouw Orchestra, Kirill Kondrashin. 1980 // Philips 412 073-1PH, 1984
- USSR Ministry of Culture Symphony Orchestra, Gennadi Rozhdestvensky. 1983 // Melodiya A10 00029 000, 1984
- USSR Symphony Orchestra, Gavriil Yudin. 1985 // Melodiya C10 30485 002, 1990
- Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Leonard Bernstein. 1985 // Deutsche Grammophon 419 771-1GH, 1987
- Scottish National Orchestra, Neeme Jarvi. 1987 // Chandos ABRD 1279, 1988
- Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Rudolf Barshai // Canadian Broadcasting Corporation SMCD 5074, 1988
- Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Vladimir Ashkenazy. 1989 // Decca 430 227-2DH, 1992
- Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Georg Solti. 1990 // Decca 430 505-2DH, 1991
- Oslo Symphony Orchestra, Mariss Jansons. 1991 // EMI CDC7 54339-2, 1992
- National Symphony Orchestra of Washington, Mstislav Rostropovich. 1993 // Teldec 4509 90849-2, 1994
- St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, Yuri Temirkanov. 1995 // RCA Victor Red Seal 09026 68548-2, 1997
- Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra, Vladimir Fedoseyev. 1996 // Canyon Classics PCCL 00356
- Prague Symphony Orchestra, Maksim Shostakovich. 1999 // Supraphon SU 38902, 2006
- Russian National Orchestra, Vladimir Spivakov. 2000 // Well Tempered Productions TP 5190, 2001
- Kirov Orchestra, Valery Gergiev. 2002 // Philips CD/SACD 470 651-2PSA, 2004
- Russian State Symphony Orchestra, Valeri Polyansky. 2003 // Chandos CHAN 10378, 2006
- Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Vasily Petrenko. 2008 // Naxos 8.572167, 2009
- Tatarstan National Symphony Orchestra. Alexander Sladkovsky. 2017 // Melodiya. MEL CD 1002470, 2017 (13 CDs)