“Pirogov”. Music to the Film
“Mosfilm” studios. Scriptwriter: Y. German. Director: G. Kozintsev
New Collected Works, DSCH Publishers. Vol. 132.
Separate pieces in the RNMM (Stack 32, Item 289) and in the Leningrad State Archive for Literature and Art (Stack 257, Inv. 16, Item 2129).
The film Pirogov was made at the Lenfilm studio in 1947 by director Grigori Kozintsev1 based on Yuri German’s script. The film explores the life and activity of Nikolay Ivanovich Pirogov (1810-1881), a surgeon, scientist, pioneer of Russian military field surgery and founder of the Russian school of anaesthetics.
Dmitri Shostakovich’s Music to the Film PIROGOV
The making of Pirogov has a long history. Yuri German’s script “Doctor Pirogov” was submitted in 1941. At the end of May, Grigori Kozintsev and Leonid Trauberg began writing a directors’ script entitled The Great Doctor, carried out auditions, approved the actors and found a place to film the Siege of Sevastopol in Crimea and Odessa. On 2 June, the film was launched, rehearsals began, and filming was supposed to start. However, the work was interrupted by the war, and Kozintsev did not return to it until 1946.
Pirogov was launched on 20 August 1946,11 and on 4 September the All-Union Communist Party(Bolsheviks) Central Committee Resolution on cinematography came out, from which practical conclusions were very soon made: the film Simple People mentioned in the resolution was put on the shelf, and work on the film Pirogov, which had just begun, was halted under the excuse that new changes had to be made to the script and was not revived until March 1947.
No documental evidence has been found of Kozintsev inviting Shostakovich to write music for Pirogov, but the composer was most likely aware of the chance to get this work when it was revived after the war, because his name figured in the estimate of the production costs. On 15 August 1947, while in Leningrad, he signed a contract for writing the music.
On 3 November 1947, the music for Pirogov was recorded at the Lenfilm sound studio conducted by Nikolay Rabinovich, who had been working regularly with Kozintsev and Shostakovich since 1929. Shostakovich attended the recording session and took active part in it, writing out the bells part for the performer on the spot, after evidently hearing the need for it in the live performance of the orchestra. This unforeseen holograph was most likely used as it was during the sound recording and the huge amount of orchestral material played during the recording still includes this modest half page of music.
The film was approved by the art council of Lenfilm on 24 November 1947, whereby almost all those who spoke placed particular emphasis on the role Shostakovich’s music played in the success of the film.
Pirogov was released on 16 December 1947. In 1948, it was awarded the Stalin Prize, and at the International Festival in Mariánské Lázně (Czechoslovakia), Andrey Moskvin, the film’s cameraman, received an honourable diploma.
Only the Overture is named as such in the author’s manuscript of the score, while the other music episodes are given sequential numbers from No. 1 to No. 9. A look at the soundtrack shows that all the music in the score was used in the film.
The music for Pirogov began to acquire an independent concert life very early. This primarily applies to the waltz, which even during the recording of the soundtrack made a great impression on those present. In November, even before the film was released, the Leningrad branch of Muzfond included the score of the “Waltz” and the “Polka” from Pirogov in their collotype publication plan. After that, beginning in 1948, Muzfond repeatedly put out the “Waltz”, and it was also published by Sovetsky Kompozitor Publishers and by Muzgiz (mainly in Levon Atovmyan’s piano arrangement, as well as in the arrangement for a stage band).
The first gramophone recording of the “Waltz” was done in 1949 by the All-Union Radio Orchestra under the baton of Viktor Knushevitsky.
Levon Atovmyan compiled an orchestral suite in five movements from the film music for Pirogov. The precise time it was compiled is not known.
Several recordings of the Suite were made. The first of them might have been done in 1966 by the Bolshoi Theatre orchestra under the baton of Maxim Shostakovich.