Seven Adaptations of Finnish Folk Songs (Suite on Finnish Themes)
The premiere of Seven Adaptations of Finnish Folk Songs was held in Kaustinen (Finland) on 1 September 2001. The Moscow premiere was held on 19 September of the same year in the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall.
DSCH Publishers. Moscow. 2002
Dmitri Shostakovich’s Archive rec. gr. 1, section 1, f. 187
Seven Adaptations of Finnish Folk Songs
(Suite on Finnish Themes). Sans op.
For more than sixty years, it was unknown to listeners, performers and researchers. Professor Lyudmila Kovnatskaya found its manuscript in one of the St. Petersburg archives. Shostakovich wrote the following on the title page of the author’s manuscript: ‘7 Adaptations of Finnish Folk Songs’, and underneath someone else wrote: ‘Suite on Finnish Themes’.
The author’s manuscript is not dated, the time the work began is not known, but a letter by the composer has survived, in which he gives the precise date the score was finished. ‘Under a contract with the Political Administration of the Leningrad Military District, I was supposed to work on the adaptation and orches tration of some Finnish folk songs,’ he wrote on 5 December 1939 to his friend Levon Atovmian. ‘I was supposed to submit them on the morning of the 2nd, but I was unable to and did not finish this work until the 3rd.’
The cycle was commissioned by the Political Administration of the Leningrad Military District, and the contract envisaged a precise date for finishing the work—2 December.
On the morning of 30 November—two days before the designated date Soviet troops invaded Finland. Shostakovich was contracted to write a work on Finnish folk themes precisely in relation to the planned aggression. When he received this contract, Shostakovich could not have known about the plans being hatched by Stalin and the higher Soviet military command.
While carrying out the contract, Shostakovich was in fact ignoring its gist. This was most likely why the adaptations were never performed.
The premiere of Seven Adaptations of Finnish Folk Songs was held in Kaustinen (Finland) on 1 September 2001. Pehr Henrik Nordgren, a wellknown composer and founder of the Finnish Shostakovich Society, initiated holding the world premiere in Finland. The composition was performed twice—at afternoon and evening concerts—with great success by singers Anu Komsi (soprano) and Tom Nyman (tenor) accompanied by the Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra (conductor Juha Kangas). The same performers did the recording of the composition. The Moscow premiere was held on 19 September of the same year in the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall, with Yelena Vasilyeva, Alexei Martynov and orchestra conducted by Vladimir Ponkin.