Tag Archives: David Nice

Going Back to the Bolsheviks

Mikhail Larionov, Portrait of Sergei Prokofiev (1921)

The 1920s in the Soviet Union, as elsewhere, were roaring with invention. Sergei Prokofiev, after several years abroad, returned to Russia in 1927. On the day of his departure, January 13, he wrote in his diary: Continue reading

A Trio of String Octets

The 18-year-old Shostakovich, photographed June 28, 1925, two days before he completed his Symphony No. 1.

Dmitri Shostakovich composed his Prelude and Scherzo for String Octet, Op. 11 (1925) when he was only eighteen, the same year in which he composed his Symphony No. 1.

Shostakovich originally composed the prelude in December 1924 as an elegy to the poet (and his close personal friend) Volodya Kurchavov; the scherzo was added seven months later. [cite] Continue reading

What can I do to have nothing again?

Eric Bromberger wrote, in a program note for Stravinsky’s L’Histoire du Soldat:

Stravinsky spent the difficult period of World War I in Switzerland. The war prevented productions of Stravinsky’s music, halting his income, and the Russian Revolution cut him off from his homeland. Now Stravinsky became friends with the Swiss novelist C.F. Ramuz and suggested that they create a theater-piece based on two Russian folktales about the devil and a soldier. The version that Ramuz and Stravinsky created became L’Histoire du SoldatThe Soldier’s Tale–completed in 1918 . . . . Continue reading

The first time as tragedy, the second time as farce

Prokofiev and Myaskovksy

[Nikolai] Myaskovsky was a friend of Prokofiev at the St Petersburg Conservatory, and later befriended Shostakovich. He wrote 27 symphonies, only to have his works banned by the Soviets in the late 1940s with the Zhdanov Decree, which also affected Shostakovich and Prokofiev. He was a soldier on the Eastern front during WWI until he was injured. [cite] Continue reading