Works Chamber Compositions for Voice and Songs

Five Romances on Verses by Y. Dolmatovsky

Opus 97 Opus 100

Opus 98
1954 year

Dmitri Shostakovich’s Compositions for Solo Voice(s).


Kiev, Philharmonic Hall. Performed by B. Gmyrya and L. Ostrin.

first publication:

1956. "Muzgiz" Publishers, Moscow.


Hand-written scores are in the Russian State Archive for Literature and Art (Stack 2048, Inv.1, Item 54) and in the RNMM (Stack 32, Item 59).

Five Romances on Verses by Y. Dolmatovsky
for Bass and Piano

     Dmitri Shostakovich’s cycle Five Romances on Verses by Yevgeni Dolmatovsky, Op. 98 was written in 1954 during the time of closest cooperation between the composer and the poet.
     After the cycle of romances Op. 98 was composed, Shostakovich did not use Dolmatovsky’s poetry again for a long time, and his last composition on verses by the poet did not appear until 1970—‘Loyalty’. Eight ballads for male choir a cappella, Op. 136.
     The precise dates of the time the romances were composed are not given either in the rough or in the fair copies of the author’s manuscripts. The composer originally attributed the composition as Op. 95, then, after the cycle was rearranged, which went on for two years, he changed the old number to 98. After he finished the author’s manuscript, the composer invited Yevgeni Dolmatovsky to his dacha to show him the finished romances. Only one poem, ‘There Were Kisses...’, of the texts the poet sent to Shostakovich was not included in the cycle; this poem was published separately. Soon after the new cycle was written, it was performed by a popular singer at that time, whose rendition the author did not like. At the beginning of November 1954, Shostakovich self-effacingly asked well-known Ukrainian opera and chamber music singer Boris Gmyrya to perform his new composition. Several days later, the composer received an affirmative reply from Gmyrya.
     Before the premiere, a gramophone record58 of the cycle performed by Boris Gmyrya and Lev Ostrin was cut in Moscow on 26-27 February 1956 with Shostakovich present. This archive recording appeared again in 2000 on a compact disc of Boris Gmyrya’s Ukrainian and Russian romances (JRC, 00310-2).
    The premiere of the cycle was held on 16 May 1956 in the Lysenko Columned Hall of the Kiev Philharmonic during Boris Gmyrya’s solo recital. The singer’s invariable stage partner, Lev Ostrin, played the piano. Shostakovich’s cycle on verses by Yevgeni Dolmatovsky enjoyed great success, the concert was broadcast on television.
     The Kiev premiere was followed by the first performances of the cycle in Moscow (on 14 June in the Grand Hall of the Conservatory) and in Leningrad (on 25 June in the Grand Hall of the Philharmonic). As in Kiev, both concerts enjoyed immense success—Boris Gmyrya and Lev Ostrin were called up for several encores.
     One of the first foreign performances of the cycle was held on 18 January 1988 in Great Britain, performed by David Wilson Johnson (baritone) and David Owen-Norris (piano).