SHOSTAKOVICH, Dmitrii Dmitrievich (1906-1975). Autograph letter signed to Mikhail Vasil'evich Kravchenko, Moscow, 15 March 1963, in Russian, referring to the Thirteenth Symphony (Babiy Yar), one page with autograph envelope, 236 x 167mm., and a portrait photograph signed and inscribed also dedicated to Kravchenko 'in token of my warmest feelings of deep gratitude', Novosibirsk, 17 July 1942, 170 x 120mm., black and white, (vertical crease)
In an informal letter to an old friend, Shostakovich writes that he likes the poems by Starshinov and that the third movement of the Thirteenth Symphony 'is devoted to women. It is called In the Store. The poem is printed in E. Evtushenko's book of poems. I'll be glad if you can acquaint yourself with it. I'll be even more glad if you acquaint yourself with my 13th Symphony, which is supposed to be performed in Leningrad in April.'
Mikhail Kravchenko (1882-1966) was an outstanding Russian double bass player and from 1925 to 1966 was the principal bass with the Leningrad Philharmonic.
Shostakovich's Thirteenth Symphony (op.113) was first performed on 18 December 1962. Based on five poems by the young Evgenii Evtushenko, Babiy Yar, Humour, At the Store, Fears and Careers, the work is scored for solo baritone, male chorus and orchestra. There was considerable controversy in the Soviet Union after the first performance owing to the texts, understood by the audience to be an oblique attack on hardline Soviet orthodoxy. For subsequent performances the texts were revised, including presumably the Leningrad performance to which Shostakovich refers, although no change to the music was involved as the new lines fitted exactly. Evtushenko and Shostakovich later collaborated on Execution of Stepan Razin in 1964.
In the letter the composer refers to the poems of E. Starshinov. It is possible that he is in fact referring to the Soviet poet Nikolai Starshinov (b.1924).
The letter appears to be unpublished. (2)