Works Film Music

“The Young Guard”. Music to the Film

Opus 74 Opus 76

Opus 75
1947-1948 year

“Simple Folk”. Op. 71. “The Young Guard”. Op. 75


The release of the two parts of the film “The Young Guard” (on 11 and 25 October 1948) was timed to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the Komsomol.

first publication:

Volume 131 of the New Collected Works. DSCH Publishers, Moscow. 2023


The manuscript is stored in the RNMM, rec. gr. 32, f. 106, 294


   The film The Young Guard was made in 1947-1948 at the Moscow Gorky Film Studio by director Sergey Gerasimov using his own script based on a novel by Aleksandr Fadeyev about an underground antifascist organization called The Young Guard, which operated between September 1942 and January 1943 in the Nazi-occupied Ukrainian mining town of Krasnodon.
   In 1945, film director Sergey Gerasimov (1906-1985) began rehearsing a practice performance of The Young Guard with the students of the Actor and Director Studio at the All-Union State Institute of Cinematography (VGIK). The play, which was moved in 1947 to the stage of the Film Actor Studio Theatre, became the groundwork for a two-part film based on Fadeyev’s novel. Later on, many of the young debutant actors who performed in Gerasimov’s The Young Guard and gave the film its youthful charm and talent became the elite of Soviet cinematography.
   At the end of February 1947, Shostakovich entered a contract with the Bolshoi Theatre to write an opera called The Young Guard. However, this contract with the Bolshoi Theatre did not go any further—Shostakovich did not begin work on the opera. Later he wrote the following in his article entitled “Cinema as a School for Composers”: “I was quite keyed up about writing music for The Young Guard, particularly since I was planning to write an opera about the young guards.”
   Gerasimov’s first version of the film, completed in 1947, like the first edition of Fadeyev’s novel in 1946, was subjected to harsh criticism, initiated by Stalin personally.
   On 22 June 1948, the Art Council of the Ministry of Cinematography discussed the work done to correct the errors in the film The Young Guard and came to the conclusion that even though the film still contained significant shortcomings after these corrections, the new version nevertheless succeeded in showing the party leadership in the correct light, and the film could be released. The release of the two parts of the film The Young Guard (on 11 and 25 October 1948) was timed to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the Komsomol. The film was a huge success and received the Stalin Prize, 1st Class.
   It should be noted that only an abridged version of the film is available for viewing today. Gerasimov remade The Young Guard twice—the first time in 1948 on instructions from the Central Committee and Stalin and the second time in the early 1960s after new circumstances regarding the activities of the Krasnodon youth organisation were revealed and the film was withdrawn from distribution. The new version of the film was shortened by cutting out several episodes, and this not only violates the logic of the events in some places, but also makes it very difficult (or impossible) to determine the true role and place of Shostakovich’s music in the film. For example, it is possible that the audience heard No. 4, No. 40 “Onward Towards the Dawn” and No. 50 “The Execution”, which no longer feature in The Young Guard, at the film’s premiere in 1948. Shostakovich’s words about the disputes with Gerasimov suggest that he took interested and active part in the making of the film and that the 1947 version was an expression of both the composer’s and the director’s will. The numbering of the music items in this edition of the score is based on the numbering in the manuscript and reproduces the gaps in the sequence of the items.
   In October 1948, Sovetskaya muzyka magazine published two items from the music to the film in its music supplement: No. 31 in the original version for string quartet, entitled “Sergey Tyulenin Says Goodbye to Valya Borts”, and No. 6 (when the young guards are marched to their execution) in the author’s arrangement for piano, entitled “March to the Execution”—this arrangement is published in Appendix II in this edition.
   In 1954, the State Music Publishing House (Muzgiz) printed “Fragments” from the music to the film The Young Guard (Moscow, 1954). The edition is a suite composed by Levon Atovmyan for a large symphony orchestra. Most of the items in the suite are re-orchestrated and reworked versions of Shostakovich’s music.
In 1987, the score of No. 1 “Overture” was published in the 42nd volume of Shostakovich’s Collected Works by Muzyka Publishing House.