Dances of the Dolls
Piano Pieces for Children
Dances of the Dolls
The cycle includes seven items, the source of which is primarily the ballet The Limpid Stream (Nos. 1, 3-7) written in 1934-1935. As regards No. 2, it is based on the Gavotte from the incidental music for The Human Comedy (1933-1934). Later Atovmian transferred several items from this cycle to a similar collection he called Simple Pieces.
- Lyrical Waltz—Ballet The Limpid Stream, No. 13, Waltz of the Female Dancer; Ballet suite 3, No. 5; Ballet music, No. III
- Gavotte—“Gavotte” from the music to The Human Comedy; Ballet suite 3, No. 2 Simple Pieces, No. 3
- Romance—Ballet The Limpid Stream, No. 4, Meeting of Two Girlfriends; Ballet suite 1, No. 3; Ballet music, No. II
- Polka—Ballet The Limpid Stream, No. 41, Variations of the Female Dancer; Ballet suite 1, No. 2, figs. 5-11; Suite from the Ballet The Limpid Stream, No. 5
- Waltz-Joke—(Waltz-Scherzo) Ballet The Limpid Stream, No. 26, Waltz, Variation, Male Dancer in a Female Costume; Ballet suite 1, No. 5; Ballet music, No. 1
- Hurdy-Gurdy—Ballet The Limpid Stream, No. 12, Dance of the Milkmaid and Tractor Driver; Ballet suite 1, No. 4, figs. 5-11; Ballet music, No. VI; Suite from the Ballet The Limpid Stream, No. 2
- Dance—Ballet The Limpid Stream, No. 20, Invitation to a rendezvous; Suite for stage orchestra, No. 3 (from the beginning to fig. 6 and from fig. 14 to fig. 17)
The cycle Dances of the Dolls is customarily considered Shostakovich’s own work. In particular, Sofya Khentova’s monograph points out that the composer worked on it in May 1950. However, all the research done to date proves that the work was largely done by Levon Atovmian, with whom Shostakovich had friendly and professional relations for many years.
It is known that Atovmian compiled a number of suitestyle works (ballet suites, suites for the stage and symphony orchestras, and so on) based on Shostakovich’s
music. These works were often performed and published under Shostakovich’s name. As a rule, the composer was not satisfied with the results, of which he informed his interlocutors, including Atovmian. Perhaps he also did not like the fact that, despite the initial primarily applied nature of the processed music, Atovmian treated it rather freely, putting it together in an arbitrary way, adding fragments of his own invention, and arranging the music in his own way.
There are currently no direct or indirect documents confirming Shostakovich’s participation in the cycle—there is no author’s manuscript, nor is the work mentioned in the composer’s letters. The clearest evidence of the arranger’s activity, however, are Atovmian’s letters to musicologist Alla Bogdanova (of 1967) discovered by Olga Digonskaya in Dmitri Shostakovich’s Archive, in which he talks about his efforts to compile suites from Shostakovich’s works and says directly in one of them that “he did the Dances of the Dolls on the basis of ballet suites”.