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New book about composer Shostakovich sees light in St. Petersburg

December 11, 2013, 20:00 UTC+3 11
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ST. PETERSBURG, December 11 (Itar-Tass) - A three-volume album book telling the reader a story of student years (1919-1930) of one of the 20th century's greatest symphonists Dmitry Shostakovich was presented Wednesday. The presentation of the book that came out in the publishing house ‘Composer - St. Petersburg’ took place in Russia’s oldest musical university, St. Petersburg Conservatory the young would-be composer joined when he was thirteen with a light hand of the conservatory’s head, Alexander Glazunov. Later he would become its youngest lecturer.

The architect of the idea, Doctor of Fine Arts, Professor Lyudmila Kovnatskaya, has thoroughly explored the archives, letters and memoirs to create the book. Shostakovich’s university years and his first steps as a composer are seen from a wide range of perspectives and in the environment of historical and artistic events of the 1920s. The family’s addresses and city routes, classmates and friends, teachers, home works and exams, the emergence of the composer’s unique style, recitals and premiers, music written for theatrical performances and the composer's work as a pianist in silent movie theatres - all these facts are all used to retrace Shostakovich’s student years against the city’s background. All three volumes are richly adorned with rare photographs and facsimiles of manuscripts that have seen the light in this book.

The book presents the premiere of the 19-year old composer’s thesis, Symphony No. 1 in F minor as one of the landmark works. The premiere on May 12, 1926, conducted by Nikolai Malko took place in St. Petersburg's philharmonic hall, now named after Shostakovich. The composer’s widow Irina appreciated the work and congratulated St. Petersburg upon the completion of a year-long project.

The composer maintained close bonds with the conservatory in the last decade of his life - in 1963-1966 he led a doctoral programme at the composers' faculty. Conferences devoted to Shostakovich's cultural heritage have been regularly held at the conservatory since 1976. This tradition was established by his first biographer, Doctor of Fine Arts Sofia Khentova, who wrote a biographical book entitled Shostakovich. Life and Work.

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