Works Chamber Compositions for Voice and Songs

“Anti-Formalist Rayok”

Opus SO Opus 81

Opus SO
1948 year

“Anti-Formalist Rayok”
“Anti-Formalist Rayok”. Piano score. Score.


The Grand Hall of the Moscow Conservatory. The performers were: the State Chamber Choir of the USSR Ministry of Culture under the baton of Valery Polyansky.

first publication:

DSCH Publishers, Moscow, 1995

“Anti-Formalist Rayok”
for Four Basses and Mixed Choir
Accompanied by Piano and Narrator

     Anti-Formalist Rayok is a caustic and sombre satire on government campaigns with regard to music, primarily the Conference of Soviet Musical Functionaries at the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks), which resulted in the Resolution of 10 February 1948 ‘On Vano Muradeli’s Opera The Great Friendship’ (published in Pravda on 11 February 1948). The Resolution, in turn, gave rise to numerous incriminating meetings at the USSR Union of Composers and other music institutions. Anti-Formalist Rayok also gave expression to a later similar event—the Second All-Union Congress of Soviet Composers held on 18 March-5 April 1957.
     Anti-Formalist Rayok, the text of which was written by the composer himself, the only one of Shostakovich’s works that so openly demonstrates the author’s attitude to officialdom in art and to the Soviet authorities as a whole.
     The names of the main characters—comrades Yedinitsyn (Number One), Dvoikin (Number Two), and Troikin (Number Three)—have a relatively wide associative range, such as school grades, the characters in Mayakovsky’s play The Bathhouse, which Shostakovich knew well in Vsevolod Meyerhold’s staging and, finally, the ‘troikas’—judicial commissions of three persons of the Great Terror era. The initials with the surnames point directly to prototypes: I.S. Yedinitsyn—Iosif (Joseph) Stalin, A.A. Dvoikin—Andrei Alexandrovich Zhdanov, D.T. Troikin—Dmitri Trofimovich Shepilov.
     Anti-Formalist Rayok took a long time to come to fruition. It was not performed until 1989, almost 15 years after Shostakovich’s death, which means that, during the composer’s lifetime, it never saw the light of day.
     Not one of the six author’s manuscripts kept in Dmitri Shostakovich’s Archive is dated. The earliest sketch of the composition is not dated (or titled) either. It contains the performances of the Chairman, Yedinitsyn and Dvoikin, plus a brief outline of Troikin’s speech placed at the end of the manuscript.
     The world premiere of Anti-Formalist Rayok performed in full and in the final author’s version was held on 25 September 1989 in the Grand Hall of the Moscow Conservatory on the 83rd anniversary of Dmitri Shostakovich’s birth. The performers were: the State Chamber Choir of the USSR Ministry of Culture under the baton of Valery Polyansky, soloists Yuri Vishnyakov (Chairman), Yevgeni Chepikov (Yedinit- syn), Anatoli Obraztsov (Dvoikin) and Nikolai Konovalov (Troikin). The piano part was performed by Igor Khudolei and the text “From the Publishers” was read by Dmitri Dorliak.
     The solo version of Rayok was performed for the first time in Leningrad on 5 October 1989 by Vladimir Pankratov (bass) and Boris Tishchenko (piano).
     The work was published soon after the premiere—first abroad (with the original Russian text and the English translation by Elizabeth Wilson) and a few years later in Russia.
     At the end of the 1990s, Boris Tishchenko did an arrangement for soloists, mixed choir, and symphony orchestra (it is published in this edition), and Vladimir Spivakov and Vladimir Milman did a joint arrangement for bass and chamber orchestra.
     The first audio recordings were also released abroad. Later, stage versions of Rayok appeared in Russian theatres.


  • Orchestra of the Moscow State Academic Chamber Musical Theater under the direction of B. A. Pokrovsky. Soloist: A. Mochalov, Conductor: A. Levin, 1995
    TRITON 17 008, 1996
  • State Academic Symphony Chapel of Russia. Soloists: Yakovenko S., Sheps I., Conductor: V. K. Polyansky, 1993
    SAISON RUSS / CDM LDC 288 075, 1994
  • Vocal ensemble “Audite nova” Soloists: N. Guzelyov, N. Storozhev, R. Tesarovich, A. Volodos. Conductor: M. Rostropovich. 1989
    ERATO ECD 75571, 1990
  • Washington Choral Society. Soloists: J. Deutsch, E. Halfvarson, J. Rodescu, A. Wentzel. Conductor: N. Scribner. 1989
    ERATO ECD 75571, 1990