Shostakovich Three Violin Duets

June 14, 2004 at 05:08 AM · What's the deal with these three duets? They're so beautiful, so Austrian, so perfectly unlike Shostakovich! What was this man thinking when he composed these duets? Are they a joke? Was he trying to say "Yes I can compose this beautiful music, but I choose to compose the music I normally compose (i.e sometimes/most of the time weird), but this just shows I can"?? Somebody explain?

Replies (23)

June 14, 2004 at 05:42 AM · I love these duets, and have performed them many times! A good tip. If you are stuck performing for drunk bikers and they request songs, bring out the waltz from this set.

June 14, 2004 at 11:15 AM · Funnily enough I am performing these (only in front of my friends I hasten to add) in three weeks time. They are beautiful aren't they? I dont know anything about it, but you are surely right that he was sending something up - bourgeois

tea-dances or parties perhaps? There is a little bit of the Shosty you know and love buried about half way through the Waltz - a couple of dissonances and a funny synchopation in the 2nd violin part - that almost threw me off - so here he was laughing at himself laughing at something!

June 14, 2004 at 07:14 PM · What Opus are they? If they are an erly opus than it's pretty early in his career and he probably was writing them based on the instruction that was given to him. Most of his stuff gets pretty progressively weird- there is a huge difference between his first Quartet and his final five "introverted" quartets for example. I think that even Shostakovich's most seemingly beautiful passages can have undercurrents of nervousness and ambiguosity (is that a word lol). And yeah, even in his late works one could find beautiful music (look at his 24 preludes and fugues for Piano). He was an amazing composer, and even some of his most ferocious works are beautiful simply because they are so bitterly truthful. I thnk it's sort of a matter of breaking your ear open a little before you can realise that much of this weird stuff really is beautiful when you get down to it.

June 15, 2004 at 06:46 AM · I don't think they have an Op. number - quite a lot of his smaller scale chamber stuff doesn't. I have no idea either when they were written and would appreciate any further information from anyone who does!

June 17, 2004 at 06:33 AM · I am gonna go busking with my friend Aaron and we need duet music--any names of publishers for these and how much do they cost??

June 18, 2004 at 07:11 AM · Well, although they are called duets they are actually for 2 violins and piano, and the piano part is essential so you will need three of you and a piano on wheels! I dare say a keyboard could be ok - my copy is pubished by Peters but I dont have it to hand so can't give you the catalogue number - should find it.

June 18, 2004 at 09:40 AM · It is actully an arrangement form Film-music that Shostakovich wrote, but he did not arrange it himself. but Konstantin Fortunatov, you know the dude that Translated "The Art of Violin Playing" by Flesch to russian :)

June 18, 2004 at 12:20 PM · It is actually 5 Pieces for 2 violins and piano, Peters Edition publishes only 3, while Sikorski publishes all 5.

June 18, 2004 at 01:54 PM · Isn't the 5 pieces his 5 waltzes?

June 18, 2004 at 02:00 PM · And Lev Atovmyan (Shostakovich's pal and maniac arranger) seems to have arranged 5 pieces too from different Movie-scores and Ballets.

June 18, 2004 at 02:52 PM · The 5 pieces are:






June 18, 2004 at 03:44 PM · That's Atovmyan's arrangement's.



June 18, 2004 at 04:16 PM · I actually have a recording of this I think...Pinchas Zukermann and Itzhak Perlman playing three of them..Prokiev's sonata for two violins and Bartok's 44 violin duets are also on the CD...

June 19, 2004 at 02:27 PM · I just played these and i was wondering the same: why such melodious music? haha.

it took us a little bit to find the score and music, though. Is there some sort of ban between russia and america on certain russian authors? That's what i heard.


June 19, 2004 at 02:35 PM · The problem is that while the Soviet Union existed, US publishers didn't recognize the copyright laws for Russian composers. So they published the pieces as if they were public domain, like Mozart or Bach.

After the fall of the USSR, the US began recognizing the international copyright laws for those same Russian composers. Now the publishing rights belong to the families (I think). And suddenly, especially with Shostakovich, it can be very difficult and expensive to find parts.

June 19, 2004 at 02:57 PM · You can find some of Shostakovich music from the publisher Sikorsi.

June 19, 2004 at 03:03 PM · I am writing an article for The Strad magazine about teaching harmonics to young violinists/violists. If you would be willing to be quoted and have some great ideas or materials that have worked well for you, please post them here or contact me directly. Thank you!

Laura Reed,

June 20, 2004 at 01:33 AM · I think Shostakovich is just poking fun at the style of Vienniese music. He wanted to have a laugh at how "perfect" it is...

July 14, 2004 at 04:55 AM · Adam, I don't think it is fair to say that Shostakovich's music is not beautiful. Where do you think compositions stem from? Well, obviously, it's inspiration. Shostakovich's compositions reflected the time he lived in. When Stalin was in power. His Fetivo Overture, when premiered, left the audience standing and clapping for like six or so hours. (not a joke). After this they went and they celebrated for a month I think, cause it gave his people something to be proud of, unlike their life under Stalin. Of course, the irony is that Stalin didn't even notice the joke that Shostakovich played on was kind of like a slap in the face. Anyways, back to my point. You can't find more beauty in moving people's hearts. By the way, Concerto No. 1 Op. 77? is very melodic.

July 14, 2004 at 05:27 AM · Yes....I do find his compositins beautiful. I like Shostakovich very much, it's just that these duets are so out of his style. Shostakovich to me is weird, but pleasant to listen to...its not random notes which annoy me, there are melodies in his works which I love. These duets are unlike him. You can't dispute that...

February 28, 2012 at 05:56 AM · The '5 Pieces' and '3 Duets' are actually different. The first two pieces in both are the same, but the third piece (Waltz) is actually different between the two. No ideas why and how they got it that way. Just weird!

February 28, 2012 at 09:53 AM · If you mean the three duets arranged for violins & piano by Fortunatov, they're from film scores.

The 'Prelude' is the Introduction (not the famous Prelude) from The Gadfly, and is longer and darker than the arrangement would suggest. The Gavotte is from The Human Condition (or Human Comedy), and the Waltz from The Return of Maxim.

Unless you're a fan of historical Russian cinema, you probably haven't ever heard of them - and that's rather the point. The Shostakovich we know well from the symphonies, quartets and concertos is just one aspect of his output, and he could also write music 'to order', especially for films.

Here's the original versions on Spotify: spotify:user:owain80:playlist:28qHk09YZlzCUfzO91CCX6

February 28, 2012 at 04:26 PM · *The problem is that while the Soviet Union existed, US publishers didn't recognize the copyright laws for Russian composers. So they published the pieces as if they were public domain, like Mozart or Bach.*

Even before the Soviet Union, the Russian government hadn't signed onto the international convention for copyright protection. So Igor Stravinsky lost millions in royalties that might have been paid on his early ballets, and this was one of his motivations in producing "revised editions" for Western publishers later on. And there were printed editions and pirated recordings available in the USSR that were hard to find in other places.

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