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Sketching the symphonies: a brief report on's manuscripts in Moscow.


Shostakovich's sketch materials have recently come to light through the publishing efforts of the Dmitri Shostakovich Archive in Moscow. The documents illuminate the composer's creative process in different genres, at different periods of his career, and through different working methods. The emergence of this collection, however, is relatively recent--the first published indications of a significant body of manuscripts came in 2002--and therefore, the collection's extent, the forces that shaped it, and the circumstances that governed its formation are still relatively opaque matters. As a step toward tracing this larger collection, this article offers a brief summary of the known sketches for Shostakovich's symphonies. These include partial or complete materials for fourteen (Nos. 1-5 and 7-15) of the fifteen published symphonies (with rumors of materials for the Sixth Symphony as well), and illuminate the types of manuscripts and methods of sketching that Shostakovich used in major works. Discussion may eventually take up the provenance of all Shostakovich's manuscript materials, but we appear to be years, if not decades, away from such work. More focused initial studies, like the one offered here, are thus crucial to that eventual account, particularly for a composer like Shostakovich, about whom there are so many conflicting and troubled narratives touching everything from his creative process to his ideological commitments.


Almost thirty years after Shostakovich's death in 1975, the composer's sketch materials began to emerge in archives in Moscow. Manashir IAkubov, the late curator of the Shostakovich family private archive, announced the discovery in 2002 in the opening volumes of the New Collected Works edition of Shostakovich's music, and subsequently devoted much of his remaining professional life to organizing the sketches and preparing the New Collected Works for publication. (1) Meanwhile, the archivist Olga Digonskaia (Digonskaya) (2) began to uncover and identify hundreds of Shostakovich's manuscripts in the Glinka State Museum of Musical Culture (Gosudarstvennyi tsentral'nyi muzei muzykal'noi kultury imeni M. I. Glinki: GTsMMK) and the Russian State Archive of Literature and Art (Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi arkhiv literatury i iskusstva: RGALI). (3) Such manuscript sketches illuminated Shostakovich's creative process in different genres, at different periods of his career, and through different working methods. Lack of exposure and organization, however, made it difficult to assess the emerging collection, and fourteen years later many challenges persist. The collection's extent, the forces that shaped it, and the circumstances of its formation are not fully known. As the record is still being found and shaped, even the identity of the materials as a collection is very much in progress.

Within this context, an account of selected manuscripts can offer an important step in tracing the emerging collection and its significance for scholars and performers of Shostakovich's music. I report here on sketch materials for the symphonies--a group of manuscripts that Russian archivists have largely identified and cataloged and that allows comparison of materials across a single genre. Partial or complete sets of sketches exist for fourteen of Shostakovich's fifteen published symphonies (Nos. 1-5 and 7-15, with rumors of sketches for Symphony no. 6 as well), and the materials as a whole illuminate the types of manuscripts and methods of sketching that Shostakovich used in major works. While the place of these documents within the broader collection is not yet fully known, this account of the symphonic sketches offers a glimpse into Shostakovich's creative process, allowing us to observe compositional patterns, reconstruct creative moments, and understand some of the composer's curatorial decisions about his music.


Shostakovich's sketches for his symphonies are held in RGALI and the Glinka Museum, with facsimiles and some original manuscripts also preserved in the Dmitri Shostakovich Archive. Matters of provenance are somewhat opaque for these documents. We know that state archives in Moscow began to receive Shostakovich's compositional documents during the composer's lifetime, but we do not know precisely what was in the deposits. Levon Atovmian (Atovm'yan), the composer's friend and music editor, collected papers and manuscripts from Shostakovich (and sometimes from his housekeeper) (4); these documents included sketches and drafts, which made their way into the Glinka Museum in 1964. (5) Around the same time, musicologist Grigorii Shneerson (Grigoriy Shneyerson), with whom Shostakovich had corresponded for nearly twenty years, also gave the museum a large collection of documents, which included "musical manuscripts." (6) The extent of Atovmian's and Shneerson's donations, however, is not clear, nor the number of sketches in their possession, the degree of randomness or cohesion among documents, or the conditions whereby they were received and preserved; nor do we know how many similar donations the archive received. These gaps make it difficult to assess how the collection of Shostakovich's manuscripts came into existence, or to what extent individuals and institutions have shaped (and are shaping) the historical narrative.

Until the last fifteen years, the scholarly record contained no discussion of Shostakovich's sketch materials, only denials that he ever sketched. Shostakovich himself denied sketching, and those who knew him perpetuated the claim. As a result, stories of his compositional fluency gained fabulous proportions. In the words of editors, biographers, friends and colleagues:

   Shostakovich does not belong to the category of composers who build
   up their works from a series of rough drafts, from some preliminary
   sketches. (7)

   [It is a fact] that he sets his orchestration into the score at
   once, that he conceives of his compositions in all their detail and
   writes them down with phenomenal speed. There is something
   Mozartian in his complete mastery of musical material. (8)

   Shostakovich's creative process [shows] the clarity of his
   conceptions, embracing the form as a whole down to the minutest
   details of texture and instrumentation. (9)

   [He] sits at his desk and writes the whole score straight off. (10)

The absence of any compositional preparation prior to a final score would be striking for any composer, but the repeated denials of Shostakovich's sketching were particularly curious in light of an interest in sketch study that blossomed in the Glinka Museum shortly before Shostakovich's manuscripts were first deposited there. In 1962, Natan Fishman, an affiliate at the museum, published a three-volume work on Beethoven's "Viel'gorskii" sketchbook, a document probably acquired by Count Mikhail Viel'gorskii (Vielgorsky) in the mid- to late-1850s, but lost in Russia around 1900. After the Revolution, the sketchbook was rediscovered in a state archive in Moscow. In 1943, it was moved to the Glinka Museum; and in 1962, Fishman published a 174-page facsimile of the sketches, with a second volume containing his transcription, and a third his analysis and commentary. (11) The study garnered recognition in the Soviet Union, and in 1968 Fishman was awarded a doctorate from the Moscow Conservatory for his work. Internationally, it also drew praise. Reviewing the study for Notes in 1963, Malcolm Hamrick Brown judged it "a musicological contribution of major importance" because of its author's expertise in "explain[ing] the creative process" through sketches. (12)

An eminent Soviet musicologist was thus engaged in sketch study in precisely the archive where some of Shostakovich's own sketch materials would soon be preserved. Yet for forty years, the literature was silent about Shostakovich's sketches. The myth was that he invented his music in his head, then wrote it down in finished form. Such a picture encouraged a connotation of compositional process equated with Mozartian mastery, and Shostakovich was therefore excluded from the ranks of major composers whose sketches were regarded as essential to understanding the creative process.

Then, in 2002, IAkubov made his startling assertion: hundreds of sketches survive from Shostakovich's creative process, and these include fragmentary passages, rejected movements, revised manuscripts, aborted works, piano score drafts, and extracts from final scores--all the usual documents that provide insights into a composer's creativity. In conjunction with the collecting and centralizing of Shostakovich's manuscripts in Moscow, and with the publication of the New Collected Works, IAkubov and Digonskaia pioneered the discovery of these manuscripts, and began to catalog and examine them. With the publication of the symphonies, in particular, the identification of symphonic sketches gained some significance, and it is increasingly important now to offer an assessment of them as a discrete group within a larger emerging collection.

The first thirty volumes of the New Collected Works offer a point of entry into the topic of sketches. (13) Although sketches are not a primary focus, the volumes reproduce facsimiles of some manuscripts, (14) along with short critical commentaries documenting where the sketches are preserved, what music they contain, and what salient markings inform our understanding of them. These notes are valuable but insufficient for proper acquaintance with the manuscripts. Many facsimiles show only select pages from much larger sets of documents, leaving the picture very incomplete. Even when all sketch sheets are reproduced, it is impossible to grasp the scope and relationship of sketches in a given file (or across separate files) or to make judgments, observe patterns, or suggest interpretations based on the published information alone.

Serious scholarly work must also contend with the state of the broader collection, difficulty in accessing documents, and unfamiliarity with Shostakovich's manuscript legacy. Russian archivists continue to identify and catalog his manuscripts. This process produces a sense of the abundance of sketch materials, but does not always illuminate their significance. Moreover, gaining access to the documents is difficult. Russian archives have never been easy to navigate, (15) but obtaining information on Shostakovich has the added challenge that his fondi in Moscow are "closed," and his documents can be seen only through written permission of the composer's widow. (Such caution is at least partly explained by a desire to protect scholarly interests in Russia, and by sensitivity over the many conflicting narratives about the composer that have emerged since the publication of his purported memoirs in 1979. (16)) As a result of such challenges, no comprehensive perspective of Shostakovich's sketches has yet been offered. A central question thus remains: what do we do with the evidence that the sketches offer, and what do they contribute to our understanding of Shostakovich's music? In an effort to address this question, let us turn to the sketches for the symphonies, and document what manuscripts are known to date, what types of information they reveal or allow us to deduce, and what they contribute to scholarship on (and beyond) Shostakovich.


Several research visits to Moscow, culminating in the spring of 2016, allowed an overview of the sketch materials for the symphonies, and my discussion is based on this examination and on an acquaintance with the efforts of the Dmitri Shostakovich Archive to expose some of these documents. When I started my work on Shostakovich, no word of newly found manuscripts had yet penetrated the scholarly community. The literature (as we have seen) claimed that Shostakovich had never sketched, and even IAkubov's comments in a few published volumes of the New Collected Works had not attracted attention. My awareness of the sketch materials came through the Dmitri Shostakovich Archive, where IAkubov and Digonskaia were actively working with the composer's manuscripts. They kindly pointed me to Shostakovich's sketches for the Fifth Symphony, which IAkubov had transcribed for volume 20 of the New Collected Works. Various conversations and traces of evidence then led me to the manuscripts for the Eighth and Tenth symphonies, both of which, I found, had unique features. The Eighth Symphony sketches contained two complete versions of a single movement--the only such instance that I have seen amongst Shostakovich's symphonic sketches--and the Tenth Symphony manuscripts were singular in their chaotic appearance yet extraordinary coherence across disorder. (17) As manuscripts became available, I set out to become similarly well acquainted with Shostakovich's sketches for other symphonies, but until my most recent trip to the Shostakovich Archive, I had not seen his manuscripts for the last five symphonies. The opportunity to do so this spring allowed me to complete a picture of the symphonic sketches and to answer questions raised by my previous work. The present article arises from this deep study of the composer's manuscripts in an effort to build command over them as an avenue for research.

Shostakovich's sketches for his symphonies are disparate. Some are coherent and detailed, others are partial, and still others, extremely fragmentary. Some manuscripts show almost all the notational details of the final autograph; others merely outline ideas, break off abruptly, and appear to lack continuity. Some sketches contain large, unbroken sections of music; others, just two or three measures. Strikingly dissimilar from each other in appearance and preparation, the manuscripts show that Shostakovich sketched his way to final versions, and that his methods of sketching varied for different works. Taken together, his symphonic sketches illustrate a spectrum of his compositional process, but no sketches for a single symphony trace his process completely. That is, we cannot follow one symphony from early-stage sketches through pre-final compositional drafts; but viewing the manuscripts as a collection, we can observe types of sketches, and illuminate methods, patterns, and compositional issues to which the sketches point.

Table 1 lays out the extant sketch materials for the symphonies and the relative state of preparation that each set of materials shows. The table permits four initial observations. First, most of the manuscripts illustrate one sketch stage per work (except for the Second Symphony, which has two). Yet, second, placed in relation to each other, the manuscripts illuminate three types or stages of sketching: early, middle, and pre-final stages. Third, a preponderance of late or pre-final piano-score drafts dominates the sketch record for Symphonies nos. 3-9. Fourth, Shostakovich's method of sketching (or at least the types of manuscripts he preserved) changed with Symphony no. 10; and for his last six symphonies, his sketches are far less detailed than those for his earlier works. To elaborate these points, we can examine the different sketch stages using examples from Symphonies no. 2 (early stage), nos. 4 and 8 (prefinal stage), and nos. 10 and 14 (middle stage). This ordering proceeds chronologically in an effort to trace how the sketch record changed over the course of Shostakovich's symphonic career.

Among the documents we know, the manuscripts for the Second Symphony represent the earliest stage of Shostakovich's written process. They are fragmentary, disordered, and nonsequential, a motley collection of sketches written on a variety (and sometimes mere scraps) of paper. (18) According to these sketches, Shostakovich wrote the symphony down unsystematically--in short passages, at different times, on different manuscripts, and in different methods of scoring (piano score or open score)--over a six-month period. (19) Nothing else in the extant record of his symphonic manuscripts is comparable to this fragmented approach. Despite the fragmentation and disorder, however, some of the sketches prefigure large sections of the final autograph. The longest coherent passage is nearly 100 measures, sketched in fragments (sometimes as short as four measures at a time) over several jumbled pages; but once we put these fragments in the right order, ninety-eight consecutive measures of music are present. A tension emerges, then, between the early-stage appearance of the sketches and their coherence across long passages of music. This observation suggests an unsystematic method to Shostakovich's composing, but a masterful conception: as he sketched, at different times and out of order, he prepared large sections of the final work, without missing a single measure. In a subsequent manuscript, Shostakovich "linked" some of these sketch fragments together, creating a draft that prefigured three sections (a total of 263 measures) of the final autograph. This idea of writing a coherent draft in close chronological proximity to a final score (20) may foreshadow the long drafts, rather than fragmentary sketches, that dominate the compositional record of his next seven symphonies.

After Symphony no. 2, Shostakovich's sketches divide into two groups: pre-final drafts for Symphonies nos. 3-9, and continuous, middle-stage drafts for Symphonies nos. 10-15. In biographical terms, this means that the most detailed sketch records exist for the symphonies written between 1929 and 1945, and far less detailed records document the symphonies between 1953 and 1971.

The pre-final drafts of Symphonies nos. 3-9 show the shape, content, and notational details of each work. The sketch materials for the Fourth and Eighth symphonies are representative, but suggest discrete compositional concerns. For the Fourth Symphony, dense notation fills the manuscript sheets from top to bottom, and long, unbroken drafts in piano score progress uninterruptedly for hundreds of measures. The second movement, for example, is detailed and almost complete, missing only 9 of its 403 measures; from the finale, over 900 measures (about two-thirds of the movement) are written out consecutively. (21) Yet the drafts also show several variants of the beginnings of movements, immediately next to drafts of whole movements. For the first movement, Shostakovich wrote and discarded eight variants of the opening. Some of these foreshadow the final score; others bear little relation to it. The variants are noteworthy because they show the composer testing ideas and stating premises that, analytically and acoustically, will be played out in the rest of the movement. For their length, sequence, and detail, the drafts for the Fourth Symphony suggest an advanced stage of composition, and point to the fact that the overall conception of the piece is in place. The juxtaposition of variant openings, however, against these detailed drafts illuminates the amplification and resolution of compositional ideas, even at a late stage of the composing process.

The pre-final drafts for the Eighth Symphony are among the most detailed of Shostakovich's symphonic manuscripts--and certainly among the most lovingly preserved. They are organized, systematic, and coherent, presenting a complete, clean copy of the symphony, with numbered sketch pages and labeled movements. These documents show a stage of composition in which refinement is almost complete, very nearly duplicating (for piano) the final autograph. Amidst their pristine state of preparation, however, they contain a striking anomaly: two complete, different versions of the second movement that indicate a radical rethinking of the movement at a near-final stage of composition. The manuscripts illuminate a decisive creative moment in which Shostakovich altered the instrumentation of the second movement, which originally included piano, and the expression of its central section, which he changed from a lyrical piano solo to an angular scherzo for piccolo instruments. In their detail and orderliness--even their preservation of ideas later discarded--Shostakovich's sketch materials for the Eighth Symphony attest to a special pride in and care of the work. They look more like a piano-score copy of the symphony than compositional manuscripts for it, and were it not for the revised and rewritten second movement, there would be little essential difference (except scoring) between the manuscripts and the autograph score. The conscientiousness to the notation, appearance, and preservation of these sketches seems to correlate with the high estimation that Shostakovich consistently expressed for this work. (22)

With Symphony no. 10, a stark change occurs in Shostakovich's manuscripts: there are no more pre-final drafts in his output, and the extant sketches are much less detailed and less orderly than those for the earlier symphonies. The manuscripts for the Tenth Symphony are particularly notable for their disjunct state, with passages sketched in extremely scant detail, others written out of order (in relation to the final work), and music from other works intruding suddenly into the sketches. Despite the disorder and scant outlines, however, two important observations emerge: the sketches contain long passages of music, and they prefigure entire movements and most of the symphony. By comparison with the fragmentary approach of the Second Symphony manuscripts or the meticulous detail of pre-final drafts, the Tenth Symphony sketches illustrate a middle stage of compositional preparation.

The sketches are completely jumbled across fifty-six pages of manuscript paper. The first page contains music from the fourth movement; the third page, a part of the second movement; the fifth page, a fragment of the first movement, and so on. The first impression is one of little, if any, coherence or order. Nevertheless, once the pages are arranged according to musical content, almost the entire symphony is present, and there is very little extraneous music. (Fifty-three of the fifty-six pages contain music included in the Tenth Symphony.) The fourth movement offers a good example. Table 2 shows how Shostakovich's sketches account for the movement. The right-hand column indicates which passages the sketches prefigure, while the left-hand column shows how the passages are scattered throughout the sketch sheets. Although no sketches clearly prefigure the movement's first ninety measures, the rest of the movement (R157 through the end) is present almost without interruption, across a jumble of pages, and despite intervening music from other movements and drafts. The passage starting on page 53 (middle of the table) is particularly arresting. From there, to page 54, to pages 7, 10, and 8, each page in the sketches picks up precisely where the previous page left off. Not a single measure overlaps or is missing. This combination of disjunction and coherence occurs throughout the file.

As with the sketches for the Second Symphony, a tension emerges between continuity and disorder when we place these sketches in the sequence of the finished work. The sketches look disjunct; their nonsequential layout in no way discloses the presence of the complete piece. The disorder, however, is not an archivist's faulty pagination or mixing up of sketch sheets. It is the way Shostakovich wrote the sketches, that is, continuously as to music but out of sequence as to pages. None of his other symphonic sketches parallel the continuity of musical content but disorder of compositional record found in the Tenth Symphony manuscripts.

Nonetheless, the sketch materials for Symphonies nos. 11-15 share important features with the manuscripts for the Tenth, and can be classified together--for scant detail, outlines in one or two voices, interruptions, passages that appear sequential on the sketch pages but are out of sequence in relation to the final work, sections that are written out twice with greater detail the second time, fragments of other works intruding into (or sometimes filed with) the main body of sketches, and manuscripts mixed together with random items like a child's counterpoint exercises or, in one instance, a crayon drawing of a bull. Still, these sketch materials are easier to follow than those for the Tenth because they are more continuous and less chaotic. In sketching the Fourteenth Symphony, for example, Shostakovich outlined almost the entire vocal part, sometimes marking movement titles and a few dates in his manuscript. Above the vocal line, he wrote the text out twice, once messily in the same ink as the music, and a second time more neatly in different ink. Only occasionally did he notate bits of the orchestral part, and these are minimally represented. As a result, it is possible to follow the vocal outline relatively easily, but without the final score, it would be impossible to determine much about the shape or features of the work. The sketch sheets also contain many interruptions in the form of chromatic scales written and crossed out in empty spaces within systems. These are almost certainly related to the generation of rows for the symphony, (23) and they contribute to the "messy" appearance of the document--the sense that these manuscripts were a place to continue working out structural principles, but not a document that represented the symphony piecemeal (as in fragmentary sketches), or recorded a largely finished product (as in pre-final drafts).


The extent of Shostakovich's symphonic sketches is difficult to quantify for many reasons--the ongoing work of finding and identifying manuscripts, the dispersion of documents across different files and archives, the state of the larger collection--but by my estimate, a set of piano score sketches ranges from approximately 4 to 30 double-sided sheets (that is, ca. 8-60 pages). (24) The range depends on practical factors, like the length of a work, the stage of the sketches, the size of the score sheets, the number of blank sides or skipped lines, the nature and number of interruptions, and the haste or care with which Shostakovich wrote down the music. In addition to the descriptions already given of Symphonies nos. 2, 4, 8, 10, and 14, a few brief observations on all the materials can help us to grasp the nature and scope of the collection. (25)

* Symphony no. 1. (26) These manuscripts are unique among the known materials. They comprise a mixture of drafts for piano four-hands and for piano duo--the only such instrumentation among Shostakovich's symphonic sketches. Moreover, the scoring changes from one movement to the next, with parts of some movements drafted twice, once in each arrangement. The drafts also show markings made by Shostakovich's teachers and almost certainly had some pedagogical purpose. For these features, they seem to be in a different category from Shostakovich's other symphonic sketches.

* Symphony no. 2. (27) As noted, two types of manuscripts for the Second Symphony include fragmentary sketches and a draft of 263 measures. Although notated continuously, the draft prefigures three lengthy passages (R6-R29, R53-R87, and R90-R93) and contains notes in Shostakovich's handwriting that refer to a score for the music that is not shown (i.e., "from the beginning to 6 see score," "from figure 30 to 53 see score," "see score from 87 to 90," and "see score from 93 to the end").

* Symphony no. 3. (28) Pre-final drafts show the entire symphony in neat detail, with very few passages crossed out or rewritten, almost no marginalia, and no interruptions of extraneous music. In this context, a conspicuous moment in the manuscript occurs at the beginning of the choral section, which Shostakovich started over six times before reaching his preferred variant.

* Symphony no. 4. (29) As noted, pre-final drafts show the entire symphony, as well as variant openings of each movement.

* Symphony no. 5. (30) Pre-final drafts show the entire symphony, as well as some movement numbers and extensive notes about instrumentation. The drafts have certain informalities--a few passages that are crossed out and rewritten, some shorthand markings, and copious marginalia--but the music itself is detailed, sequential, and very easy to follow.

* Symphony no. 6. No sketches for the Sixth Symphony have been documented by the Dmitri Shostakovich Archive, but rumors of a "complete" set at the Glinka Museum sound very much like the pre-final drafts of Shostakovich's other symphonies in this period. (31)

* Symphony no. 7. (32) Pre-final drafts record the symphony from its beginning through R132+2 in the third movement. Digonskaia has also identified drafts for part of the fourth movement, mixed up with manuscripts of the Quintet op. 57, and The Gamblers. (33) A striking feature of the pre-final drafts for the Seventh Symphony is the number of rehearsal markings that Shostakovich made in the manuscripts--such as "cellos quieter" or "a little rougher"--in different writing instruments and at different times. This is the only place where such comments appear in his symphonic sketches, and they suggest that he used these manuscripts as a copy of the symphony during rehearsals. In that dimension, these sketches shed light on both composition and aspects of performance.

* Symphony no. 8. (34) As noted, pre-final drafts show the entire symphony, as well as an early version and revisions of movement 2. The manuscripts include movement numbers, some pagination and dates in Shostakovich's hand, and a kind of title page for the document. Moreover, Shostakovich clearly crossed out with large red Xs the music that is not in the final score of the Eighth (e.g., the first version and revisions of movement 2). The only extraneous music in the file is a neat copy of his proposal for a new national anthem in 1943.

* Symphony no. 9. (35) Pre-final drafts show the symphony in detail through R78 (that is, all but the last 252 measures of the finale). Evidence in the manuscripts suggests a continuation that is either lost or not yet identified; it seems almost certain that Shostakovich completed this draft through the end of the symphony.

* Symphony no. 10. (36) As noted, disordered and less detailed manuscripts mark a change in the sketch record, and can be assigned to a middle stage of the compositional process. Despite their chaotic appearance, the sketches account for almost the entire symphony.

* Symphony no. II. (37) Sketches at a middle stage of process show continuous music and represent the entire symphony, but are minimally outlined in one or two voices. The file also contains nine pages of unrelated music that has not been identified.

* Symphony no. 12. (38) Sketches at a middle stage of process are similar in appearance to the scant and disordered look of the Tenth Symphony manuscripts (but are not as difficult to follow). The music appears continuous on the sketch pages, but is sometimes out of sequence in relation to the final score, and sometimes mixed up with fragments of other works (such as an excerpt from Satires on p. 4 in archival pagination). (39)

* Symphony no. 13. (40) Sketches at a middle stage of process outline the entire symphony, with the music being continuous on the page but minimally outlined in 1-2 primary melodic voices and occasionally a few chords. Several discrepancies exist between some sketches and the score, especially in the fourth movement. It is possible that these more labored compositional moments had to do with text setting or with some of Yevgeny Yevtushenko's textual changes, of which he made several to the poem Fears.

* Symphony no. 14. (41) As noted, sketches at a middle stage of process outline the entire symphony. A unique feature of these manuscripts is that Shostakovich concentrated primarily on the vocal part and only minimally outlined the orchestral part (when he included it).

* Symphony no. 15. (42) Sketches at a middle stage of process outline the entire symphony; but they are very challenging to follow because of extremely sparse notation, a significant amount of shorthand, passages that are continuous on the page but out of sequence in relation to the final work, and many words or phrases (presumably the composer's reminders to himself) inserted into the music and referring cryptically to other sources or music (e.g., "see 19," which may indicate a rehearsal number in a score). These sketches are a curious mixture of careful details (e.g., key signatures, key changes, prose reminders) and extraordinary sparseness and lack of sequence (e.g., passages that can in no way be interpreted without the final score, and sometimes not even then).


Shostakovich's sketches illuminate his creative process in the symphonies, his methods of composing large-scale works, and his compositional concerns in formulating certain musical ideas. But beyond their role in the compositional process, to what uses did the composer put these manuscripts? We can guess at several. A primary one lay in scoring. Marginalia about instrumentation appear copiously in pre-final drafts and to a lesser degree in middle-stage sketches, and suggest that Shostakovich used his sketches as a basis from which to score his final autographs. Dates in the manuscripts corroborate this deduction. They indicate an extremely close chronological proximity between sketches and final scores, and show that Shostakovich drafted and scored alternately, preparing a movement in his drafts and orchestrating it immediately in the final autograph.

Shostakovich may also have used his pre-final drafts, in particular, for playing works-in-progress for friends, critics, conductors, and students who gathered in his home. Many reports survive of such soirees. In the late spring of 1936, he presented parts of his Fourth Symphony for a coterie of Russian and foreign musicians, including Otto Klemperer, Fritz Stiedry, Ivan Sollertinskn (Sollertinsky), Aleksandr Gauk, and others. (43) While writing the Fifth Symphony in 1937, he played movements for the composer Tikhon Khrennikov, and separately for the composers Aram Khachaturian (Khachaturyan) and Vissarion Shebalin. (44) In August 1939, presenting the Sixth Symphony to a gathering of colleagues in Leningrad, he performed excerpts from two completed movements, and predicted a third movement within a month. (45) In 1941, he played the Seventh Symphony in its entirety for friends. (46) Glikman heard part of the "new Ninth Symphony" begun on 15 January 1945 but never finished, (47) and the pianist Tat'iana Nikolaeva (Tatyana Nikolayeva, for whom Shostakovich wrote the Twenty-Four Preludes and Fugues) claimed that Shostakovich played part of the Tenth Symphony for her in 1951. (48) The testimonies to his performance at the piano of symphonies-in-progress bespeak a habitual practice. For a highly proficient pianist, the piano was the natural and primary medium for which to prepare and preserve his symphonies, and on which to perform them, and it is conceivable that his piano-score drafts played some role in these activities.

Did Shostakovich also use his sketch materials as a means of protecting his symphonies? Certainly, the pre-final drafts of the 1930s and 1940s are striking in relation to this question. The habit of writing works out twice, in detail, once in piano score and a second time in orchestral score, may suggest an interest not only in composing but also in preserving works. We know that circumstances sometimes jeopardized Shostakovich's music. The final autographs of the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth symphonies were lost--apparently left in a suitcase while in the possession of a conductor. (49) Moreover, some of the symphonies were controversial, and their longevity in Soviet performance circles was neither assumed nor assured. Shostakovich withdrew the Fourth Symphony from its scheduled premiere in 1936, shortly after the condemnation of his opera Lady Macbeth; the Fourth finally premiered in 1961. His Sixth, Eighth, and Ninth symphonies were condemned and banned from performance in 1948. In 1962, he suffered intense pressure to cancel the premiere of his Thirteenth Symphony, with its controversial condemnation of anti-Semitism; it was ultimately permitted just two performances in Moscow. Were the pre-final drafts written against (or at least in awareness of) the possibility that something might happen to the music? We do not know, of course; but if insecurities in Shostakovich's life partly motivated the detailed piano-score drafts, that fact might help to explain why we find a preponderance of such materials during the most vulnerable years of his life, and none after that.


A chief benefit of the emerging collection of Shostakovich's sketches is that it raises central issues about the formation of (and pressures on) the historical record about the composer. This record is still being made, as the documents attest, and part of their significance lies in the insights they provide into narratives about Shostakovich and his creative commitments. They illuminate his compositional process, methods, and certain decisions about his music. They also clarify the fabled picture of his compositional facility, and demonstrate the interdependence between his conception of large-scale works, and his resolution of ideas through the process of writing. At the same time, these documents raise many interesting questions pertaining to the sketches themselves or relating to their place in broader scholarship. Did Shostakovich keep only his last sketch stages and destroy earlier manuscripts? Did pre-final drafts link and fill out the discontinuity of earlier sketch stages? What do we make of the fact that the extant sketch record for the symphonies changes abruptly with Symphony no. 10? To what extent will we be able to determine the provenance and paths of transmission of Shostakovich's manuscripts, and how might such matters create transparency about the broader collection and the forces that shaped it? To what extent will "the enormous number of Shostakovich's rough drafts and sketches" (50) (to quote IAkubov) intersect with other questions surrounding the composer's life, the pressures on his career, the emotional power of his music, and the modes of communication in his most powerful works?

Shostakovich's sketch materials are abundant, according to the curators of his archives, and this article has dealt with a selected group of them on the premise that such an account is an important step in tracing his manuscript legacy. The symphonic sketches illuminate how Shostakovich composed, how his symphonies took shape, and how he preserved and curated a record of this process. In doing so, they allow us to draw at least three conclusions. First, while we do not know all that exists in the larger collection, sketches for the symphonies help us to develop a provisional framework for interpreting Shostakovich's manuscript legacy and for tracing his thinking in major works. As we have seen, these sketches largely fall into two types (pre-final drafts and middle-stage outlines), yet also disclose discrete compositional concerns in individual works (e.g., openings of movements in the Fourth Symphony or expression in the second movement of the Eighth Symphony). Second, the writing of pre-final drafts seems to have been part of Shostakovich's habitual and preferred working method in the 1930s and 1940s, after which his approach--or at least his record of it--changed. Third, the sketch materials speak to both the composition and preservation of his symphonies. His pre-final drafts through Symphony no. 9, and his outlines after that, not only illuminate the articulation of his thoughts through writing, but also preserve records of the symphonies, some of which are interpretable to an outside observer, and others of which, in the absence of a final score, could only have been interpretable to their author. Discussion may eventually take up the provenance of all Shostakovich's manuscript materials, but we appear to be years, if not decades, away from such work. More focused initial studies, like the one offered here, are thus crucial to that eventual account, particularly for a composer like Shostakovich, about whom there are so many conflicting and troubled narratives touching everything from his creative process to his ideological commitments.

Laura E. Kennedy is an assistant professor of musicology at Furman University and a specialist on the music of Dmitri Shostakovich. Her research has been supported by numerous grants and fellowships, including a Fulbright Fellowship to Russia, and Rackham Humanities Research and Dissertation Fellowships. A preliminary version of this paper was presented at the Third International Conference on Tracking the Creative Process in Music, hosted at the Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique (IRCAM) and the Paris-Sorbonne University in October 2015.

My heartfelt thanks go to the Dmitri Shostakovich Archive, the Russian State Archive of Literature and Art (RGALI), and the Glinka Museum of Musical Culture in Moscow for assistance during my work on this project. In particular, I owe an enormous debt of gratitude to Irina Antonovna Shostakovich for granting access to sources, to the late Manashir IAkubov for his unfailing interest in and support of this research, and to Olga Dombrovskaia and Olga Digonskaia at the Shostakovich Archive for their generosity in offering time, context, guidance, assistance, and much more, including the invaluable conversations and insights that arose over many cups of tea. For all these things I am most grateful to my Russian colleagues.

(1.) Shostakovich, New Collected Works of Dmitri Shostakovich [hereinafter: NCW], ed. Manashir IAkubov, 150 vols. [projected] (Moscow: DSCH, 2000-).

(2.) Where two spellings of a name are given, the first is the romanization of the Cyrillic alphabet authorized by the Library of Congress (, and used in library catalogs; the second (in parentheses) is the romanization preferred by the author, and used by some publishers. In subsequent appearances, only the authorized spelling is given.

(3.) Olga Digonskaia has brought to light unfinished works, cataloged manuscripts that were formerly unknown or misfiled, and offered some of the first lists of and insights into this information. A sampling of her work includes "Neizvestniye avtografi Shostakovicha v GTsMMK" [Unknown autographs of Shostakovich in GTsMMK], in Shostakovich:-Urtexl, ed. Marina P. Rakhmanova (Moscow: GTsMMK, 2006), 144-69; "Simfonicheskiy fragment 1945 goda" [Symphonic fragment from 1945], Muzykal'naia akademiui (2006, no. 2): 97-107; "O nekotorikh nerealizovannikh simfonicheskikh zamislakh Shostakovicha" [On some of Shostakovich's unrealized symphonic ideas (based on sketches)], in Pamiati Mikhaila Semenovicha Druskina [In memory of Mikhail Semenovich Druskin], 2 vols., edited and compiled by L. G. Kovnatskaia (Kovnatskaya), A. K. Kenigsberg, and L. V. Mikheeva (Mikheyeva) (St. Petersburg: Allegro, 2009), 1:408-48; and "'Leninskiy' zamisel Shostakovicha: Pred-Dvenadtsataya simfoniya--realnost' ili mif?" [Shostakovich's 'Lenin' idea: The Pre-Twelfth symphony--reality or myth?], Opera musicologica (St. Petersburg) 21, no. 3 (2014): 5-37.

With clarifications of the documentary record underway, we face a corollary imperative now for assessment. Russian-language sources tend to focus on exposing discoveries, but these finds remain essentially unknown to English-language scholars. In fact, the collection of Shostakovich's manuscripts has emerged so recently that even standard references like the Shostakovich Catalogue and the Grove entry on the composer do not deal with sketches as primary source material (Derek C. Hulme, Dmitri Shostakovich Catalogue: The First Hundred Years and Beyond, 4th ed. (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2010); and David Fanning and Laurel Fay, "Shostakovich, Dmitry, [section] 3: 1936-53," Grove Music Online (2001), http://www (accessed 31 August 2016)). A twofold need thus emerges in relation to these manuscripts: (a) to introduce the documents to English-language scholars, and (b) to do so in a way that provides intellectual command over the sources as an avenue for musicological inquiry.

(4.) In reminiscences first published in 1991, Atovmian recalled asking Shostakovich's housekeeper to give him papers and manuscripts from the composer's rubbish. See Levon Atovmian, "Iz vospominaniy," ed. C. Merzhanovaya, Muzykainaw, akademiia (1997, no. 4): 67-71.

(5.) Digonskaia, "Neizvestniye avtografi," 152.

(6.) Dmitrii Shostakovich v pis'makh i dokumentakh [Dmitri Shostakovich through his letters and documents], ed. I. A. Bobykina (Bobikina) (Moscow: RIF "Antikva," 2000), 5.

(7.) David Rabinovich, Dmitry Shostakovich, composer, trans. George Hanna (London: Lawrence Sc Wishart, 1959), 7.

(8.) Ivan Martynov, Shostakovich: The Man and His Work, trans. T. Guralsky (New York: Philosophical Library, 1947), 154-55.

(9.) Shostakovich, Sobranie sochinenii v soroka dvukh tomakh [Collected works in forty-two volumes] (Moscow: Muzyka, 1979-87), 1: "Publisher's Note" (unpaginated).

(10.) Rabinovich, Shostakovich, 7.

(11.) Natan Fishman, Kniga eskizov za 1802-1803 gody. Issledovanie i rasshifrovka (Moscow: Gos. Muzykal'noe izd-vo, 1962). The Viel'gorskii (also "Wielhorsky") sketchbook dates from fall 1802 to May 1803, and includes sketches for the Piano Sonata in E-Flat Major, op. 31, no. 3; Variations for piano, opp. 34 and 35; a cadenza perhaps for a piano concerto in A; Bagatelles for piano, op. 33, no. 1, and op. 119, no. 3; early ideas for the Third Symphony; Terzetto for soprano, tenor, and bass with orchestra, "Tremate, empi, temate," op. 116; Duetto for soprano, tenor, and orchestra, "Nei giorni tuoi felici," WoO 93; Duetto "Languisco e moro," Hess 229; Christus am Oelberge, op. 85; and the Violin Sonata in E Minor ("Kreutzer"), op. 47. See Douglas Johnson, Alan Tyson, and Robert Winter, The Beethoven Sketchbooks: History, Reconstruction, Inventory, ed. Douglas Porter Johnson, California Studies in 19th Century Music, 4 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985), 133-34.

(12.) Malcolm Hamrick Brown, "Kniga eskizov Betkhovena za 1802-1803 gody, Issledovanie i rasshifrovka N. L. Fishmana. S dvumya prilozheniyami (Gosudarstvennyi muzei muzykalnoT kultury imeni M. I. Glinki)," Notes 20, no. 3 (Summer 1963): 462-63.

(13.) Series I, on the symphonies, comprises volumes 1-15 (orchestral scores) and volumes 16-30 (piano transcriptions).

(14.) These facsimiles are mainly in volumes 16-30, with exceptions for Symphonies nos. 4, 6, and 9. The sketches for the Fourth Symphony appear in volume 4 (2003), rather than volume 19 (2000), since the manuscripts were discovered after the publication of the latter. No sketches are reproduced for the Sixth Symphony (volumes 6 and 21) since the documents had not yet been found when the volumes were published (Olga Digonskaia, conversation with author, Dmitri Shostakovich Archive, Moscow, 27 February 2007). The Ninth Symphony sketches are in volume 9 (2000), rather than 24 (also 2000).

(15.) This fact is at least partly due to views on information and access that differ between Western and Russian institutions. In the West, a mindset prevails of sharing knowledge in order to contribute to its preservation. In Russia, however, preservation more often equates to protection: guarding access keeps things safe. A relationship of trust between researcher and archives is therefore essential to success. Understanding these dynamics and participating in the practices around them help the researcher to establish trust and develop scholarly sensitivity to the context of the work.

(16.) Testimony: The Memoirs of Dmitri Shostakovich, transcribed and ed. by Solomon Volkov, translated by Antonina W. Bouis (New York: Harper 8c Row, 1979).

(17.) Laura E. Kennedy, "Symphonies Nos. 8 and 10 in Shostakovich's Manuscripts: A Study of Sketches and Drafts" (Ph.D. diss., University of Michigan, 2009).

(18.) NCW, 17:108.

(19.) Although the sketches are not dated, the manuscript paper, types of ink, and writing instruments used suggest this gestation period. Ibid.

(20.) The draft refers to a "score" in four places. See Symphony no. 2 in "Extent of the Collection," below.

(21.) NCW, 4:271-72.

(22.) Shostakovich called the Eighth his "favorite" work, and remarked several times on its merits. Diary entries "Leningrad, 5 XII 1944," "18 XII 1959," and "10 yanvarya [January] 1962," in Isaak Glikman, Journal I-X, Dmitri Shostakovich Archive, f. 4, r. 2, yed. khr. 1-10. Moreover, in an interview at the end of his life, he pointed to the Eighth as the work that he had composed with greatest speed and facility--indeed, that demonstrated the height of his creative power. Mark Aranovskii (Aranovsky), "Zametki o tvorchestve" [Notes on creative work], Sovetskam muzyka 49, no. 9 (1981): 21-22.

(23.) See also Levon Akopian's (Hakobian's) comments in NCW, 29:169.

(24.) The Ninth Symphony is the shortest in Shostakovich's sketches, and the Tenth and Thirteenth are the longest.

(25.) Several unfinished symphonies also exist in Shostakovich's manuscripts, but I exclude these from my discussion because they are not fully known or accessible, and it is therefore difficult to assess to what extent they are discrete works or repositories of ideas that later went into other works. For further information on Shostakovich's aborted symphonic projects, see LAkubov's references to a "pre-first" or "zero" symphony (NCW, 16:166); his notes on an "Unfinished Symphony of 1934" (NCW, 3:219-20); and Digonskaia's articles on the "pre-Ninth Symphony" ("Simfonicheskiy fragment," 97-107); the "pre-Twelfth Symphony" ("Pred-Dvenadtsataya simfoniya," 5-37); and "unrealized symphonic ideas" ("O nekotorikh nerealizovannikh simfonicheskikh zamislakh Shostakovicha," 408-48).

(26.) Glinka State Museum of Musical Culture [GTsMMK], f. 32, yed. khr. 66; and RGALI, f. 2048, op. 2, yed. khr. 52.

(27.) The manuscripts for the Second Symphony were dispersed among different archives and files and mixed up with sketches for other works. Most of the documents can be found in the Dmitri Shostakovich Archive, f. 1, r. 1, yed. khr. "Second Symphony" (provisional title); and RGALI, f. 2048, op. 1, yed. khr. 6. See also NCW, 17:109 n. 2.

(28.) Dmitri Shostakovich Archive, folder name "Dmitri Shostakovich. Op. 20 Third Symphony. 1929" (no shelf mark); and RGALI, f. 2048, op. 1, yed. khr. 2.

(29.) GTsMMK, f. 32, yed. khr. 272; RGALI, f. 2048, op. 1, yed. khr. 5; and the Dmitri Shostakovich Archive (no shelf mark).

(30.) GTsMMK, f. 32, yed. khr. 273; and RGALI, f. 2048, op. 1, yed. khr. 6.

(31.) See n. 16.

(32.) RGALI, f. 2048, op. 1, yed. khr. 8 (main file). A few additional sketch sheets are in RGALI, f. 2048, op. 1, yed. khr. 20; yed. khr. 27; yed. khr. 52; and GTsMMK f. 32, yed. khr. 261.

(33.) Digonskaia, "O nekotorikh nerealizovannikh simfonicheskikh zami'slakh Shostakovicha," 419-25, 436, 442.

(34.) RGALI, f. 2048, op. 1, yed. khr. 11.

(35.) RGALI, f. 2048, op. 1, ved. khr. 13; and RGALI f. 1334, op. 1, yed. khr. 1054 (fond 1334 is the personal archive of the writer Aleksei Kruchenykh).

(36.) RGALI, f. 2048, op. 1, yed. khr. 14.

(37.) Dmitri Shostakovich Archive, f. 1, r. 1, yed. khr. 43-4.

(38.) Dmitri Shostakovich Archive, f. 1, r. 1, yed. khr. 49-50.

(39.) NCW, 27:157.

(40.) Dmitri Shostakovich Archive, f. 1, r. 1, yed. khr. 58.

(41.) Dmitri Shostakovich Archive, f. 1, r. 1, yed. khr. 07.

(42.) Dmitri Shostakovich Archive, f. 1, r. 1, yed. khr. 71.

(43.) Laurel E. Fay, Shostakovich: A Life (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2000), 94.

(44.) Ibid., 98.

(45.) Ibid., 115.

(46.) Ibid., 128.

(47.) Diary entry "16 V 1945," in Glikman, Journal.

(48.) Elizabeth Wilson, Shostakovich: A Life Remembered (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1994), 301.

(49.) Alexander Gauk, who had the manuscripts, claimed that the suitcase was stolen during a journey; other accounts say that it went missing in besieged Leningrad. NCW, 4:242.

(50.) NCW, 3:219.

Table 1. Symphonic Sketches: Types and Stages

Symphonies Early         Middle                   Pre-Final

No. 1                    [Student papers showing multiple hands]
No. 2     Fragmentary'                            Partial score of 263
          sketches of                             measures (in three
          about half                              sections)
          the symphony
No. 3                                             Piano score drafts
No. 4                                             Piano score drafts
No. 5                                             Piano score drafts
No. 6                                             [Piano score drafts
                                                  rumored to exist.
                                                  See discussion
                                                  under "Extent of
                                                  the Collection,"
                                                  and n. 15.]
No. 7                                             Piano score drafts
No. 8                                             Piano score drafts
No. 9                                             Piano score drafts
No. 10                   Jumbled drafts lacking
                         sequence and detail
                         but showing almost
                         entire symphony
No. 11                   Continuous music
                         but minimally outlined
                         for entire symphony
No. 12                   Continuous music but
                         minimally outlined for
                         entire symphony
No. 13                   Continuous music but
                         minimally outlined for
                         entire symphony
No. 14                   Continuous music but
                         minimally outlined for
                         entire symphony
No. 15                   Continuous music but
                         minimally outlined for
                         entire symphony

Table 2. Symphony no. 10, Movement 4, in Shostakovich's

Sketch pages              Score passages prefigured

[A few ideas on p. 52]    [Approx. 90 measures (R144-R157) not
pp. 1-2                   R157-R161
p. 11                     R160-R164
pp. 48-50, 47, 51         R164-R182
p. 53                     R184-[R188.sup.+1]
p. 54                     [R188.sup.+2]-[R193.sup.+11]
p. 7                      [R193.sup.12]-[R196.sup.+4]
p. 10                     [R196.sup.+5]-R198
p. 8                      R198-[R200.sup.+4]
p. 9                      R202-end
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Title Annotation:Dmitri Shostakovich, Russia
Author:Kennedy, Laura E.
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:4EXRU
Date:Dec 1, 2016
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