Rodion Shchedrin

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Rodion Shchedrin
Родион Щедрин
Rodion Shchedrin with his wife, Maya Plisetskaya, in 2009
Born (1932-12-16) 16 December 1932 (age 90)
Moscow, Soviet Union
Occupation(s)Composer, pianist
(m. 1958;died 2015)

Rodion Konstantinovich Shchedrin (Russian:Родион Константинович Щедрин,IPA:  [rədʲɪˈon kənstɐnʲˈtʲinəvʲɪtɕ ɕːɪˈdrʲin] ; born 16 December 1932) is a Soviet and Russian composer and pianist, winner of USSR State Prize (1972), the Lenin Prize (1984), and the State Prize of the Russian Federation (1992), and is a former member of the Inter-regional Deputies Group (1989–1991). He is also a citizen of Lithuania [1] and Spain. [2]



Shchedrin was born in Moscow into a musical family—his father was a composer and teacher of music theory. He studied at the Moscow Choral School and Moscow Conservatory (graduating in 1955) under Yuri Shaporin (composition) and Yakov Flier (piano). He was married to ballerina Maya Plisetskaya from 1958 until her death in 2015.

Shchedrin's early music is tonal and colourfully orchestrated and often includes snatches of folk music, while some later pieces use aleatoric and serial techniques. In the West the music of Shchedrin has won popularity mainly through the work of Mstislav Rostropovich who has made several successful recordings.[ citation needed ]

Among his works are the ballets The Little Humpbacked Horse (1955), Carmen Suite (1973), Anna Karenina (1971, based on the novel by Leo Tolstoy), and Lady with a Lapdog (1985); the operas Not Only Love (1961), and Dead Souls (1976, after Nikolai Gogol's novel); piano concertos, symphonies, chamber and piano music and other works. He composed 24 Preludes and Fugues after he heard those of Shostakovich. Also notable is his Polyphonic Notebook.

He has written five concertos for orchestra: the first, variously translated as Naughty Limericks or Mischievous Folk Ditties (neither of which completely get the gist of the Russian which refers to a chastushka, an irreverent, satirical kind of folk song) is by far the best known, and was the work which first established him on the international stage. [3] The second of the Concertos for Orchestra was subtitled Zvony (The Chimes), and was premiered by the New York Philharmonic under Leonard Bernstein as one of the many commissions in honor of the orchestra's 125th anniversary. The third Concerto for Orchestra is based on old music of Russian provincial circuses. Concerto 4, Khorovody (round dances), was written in 1989, and Concerto 5, Four Russian Songs, was written in 1998.

Shchedrin is also a virtuoso pianist and organist, playing solo piano in the premieres of the first three of his six piano concertos. On 5 May 1974, Shchedrin performed as soloist in all three of his then-completed piano concertos, and the concert, with the USSR Symphony Orchestra under Yevgeny Svetlanov, was recorded and released on LP, then CD. He was made a member of the Berlin Academy of Arts in 1989 and received the Russian State Prize from President Boris Yeltsin in 1992. Since the collapse of the Soviet regime, Shchedrin has taken advantage of the new opportunities for international travel and musical collaboration, and now largely divides his time between Munich and Moscow.

From 11 to 14 June 2008, Shchedrin Days took place in Armenia with the participation of Shchedrin and Maya Plisetskaya as honorary guest. Invited by Walter Fink, he was the 19th composer to be featured in the annual Komponistenporträt of the Rheingau Musik Festival in 2009. He and his wife attended the concerts which included his Russian liturgy The Sealed Angel for choir and flute, performed in Eberbach Abbey. His chamber music included Ancient Melodies of Russian Folk Songs (2007) with the cellist Raphael Wallfisch and himself at the piano, and Meine Zeit, mein Raubtier with tenor Kenneth Tarver and pianist Roland Pontinen who performed it also at the Verbier Festival.

The premiere of a German version of his opera Lolita was performed as the opening night of the Internationale Maifestspiele Wiesbaden in a production of the Hessisches Staatstheater Wiesbaden in 2011. [4]

List of compositions

Stage works


  • Not Love Alone , opera in three acts with epilogue (1961). First performance on 25 December 1961 in Moscow by the Bolshoi Theatre Chorus and Orchestra, Y. Svetlanov (cond).
  • Dead Souls , opera in three acts (1976). Libretto by the composer. First performance on 7 June 1977 in Moscow by the Bolshoi Theatre Chorus and Orchestra, Y. Temirkanov (cond).
  • Lolita , opera in three acts after Vladimir Nabokov's novel (1993). Libretto by the composer. First performance: 14 December 1994 in Stockholm by the Royal Opera of Stockholm, Mstislav Rostropovich (cond), Ann-Marget Petterson, John Conklin.
  • The Enchanted Wanderer , opera for the concert stage for mezzo-soprano, tenor, bass, mixed chorus and orchestra (2001–2002). Story by Nikolai Leskov. Libretto by the composer. Commissioned by the New York Philharmonic to Lorin Maazel. First performance on 19 December 2002 in New York by the New York Philharmonic, New York Choral Artists, Lorin Maazel (cond).
  • Boyarina Morozova , choral opera in two parts for four soloists, mixed chorus, trumpet, timpani and percussion (2006). Text from "The Life of the Archpriest Awwakum by himself" and "The Life of Boyarina Morozova". Libretto by the composer. First performance: 30 October 2006 in the Moscow Conservatory in a performance directed by Boris Tevlin.
  • The Left-Hander , opera in 2 acts. Libretto by the composer after the novel by Nikolai Leskov. Concert performance on 26 June, and world stage premiere on 27 July 2013 at the Mariinsky II in St Petersburg, conducted by Valery Gergiev. [5]
  • A Christmas Tale, billed as an "Opéra féerie", libretto by the composer after Leskov's translation of Nemcova's fairy tale. World premiere at the Mariinsky Two in St.Petersburg, conducted by Valery Gergiev, 27 December 2015. The opera contains elements of the original Slavic tale of Cinderella as well as the Russian story of "The Twelve Months".


Musical theatre

  • Nina and the Twelve Months (1988). Musical in two acts on a libretto by T. Futjita after Samuil Marshak's story. First performance on 8 August 1988 in Tokyo.

Incidental music

  • They Knew Mayakovsky, to the play by V. Katanyan (1954)
  • Tempo, to the play by N. Pogodin (1955)
  • First Symphony, to the play by A. Gladkov (1956)
  • Mistery-Buffo, to the play by V. Mayakovsky (1957)
  • The Sword of Damocles, to the play by N. Hikmet (1959)
  • Thunderstorm, to the play by N. Ostrovsky (1961)
  • Tyorkin in the Hereafter, to the play by A. Tvardovsky (1966)

Orchestral works


Concertos for orchestra

Concertos for solo instrument with orchestra

Other orchestral works

  • The Little Humpbacked Horse, first suite from the ballet, for symphony orchestra (1955). First performance in 1956 in Moscow by the State Cinematographic SO, Aleksandr Gauk cond.
  • Chamber Suite for twenty violins, harp, accordion and two double basses (1961). First performance in 1962 in Moscow by a Violin Ensemble of the Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra, Y. Reyentovich cond.
  • Not Love Alone, first symphonic suite from the opera, for mezzo-soprano and orchestra (1964)
  • The Little Humpbacked Horse, second suite from the ballet, for symphony orchestra (1965)
  • Symphonic Fanfares, festive overture for symphony orchestra (1967). First performance on 6 November 1967 in Moscow by the USSR Radio & TV Large SO, Gennady Rozhdestvensky cond.
  • Not Love Alone, second version for chamber orchestra (1971). First performance on 20 January 1972 by the Moscow Chamber Opera Theater, Vladimir Delman cond.
  • Anna Karenina, romantic music for symphony orchestra (1972). First performance on 24 October 1972 in Moscow by the USSR Radio & TV Large SO, Gennady Rozhdestvensky cond.
  • Solemn Overture, Symphonic Salute on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the USSR (1982). First performance in December 1982 in Moscow by the USSR Symphonic Academy Orchestra, Yevgeny Svetlanov cond.
  • The Seagull, suite from the ballet, for symphony orchestra (1984). First performance on 14 January 1986 in New York by the New York National Orchestra, A. Kassuto cond.
  • Music for the Town of Kothen, for chamber orchestra (1984). First performance on 17 February 1985 in Berlin by the Berlin Chamber Orchestra.
  • Self-Portrait, variations for symphony orchestra (1984). First performance on 15 May 1984 in Moscow by the USSR State SO, D. Kakhidze cond.
  • Music for strings, two oboes, two horns and celesta (1985). First performance in April 1987 in Leningrad by the Leningrad State Philharmonic Academic SO, F. Glushchenko cond.
  • The Geometry of Sound for chamber orchestra (1987). First performance in May 1987 in Cologne by Soloists of the Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra, Alexander Lazarev cond.
  • Stikhira (Hymn) for the Millennium of the Christianisation of Russia, for symphony orchestra (1988). Dedicated to Mstislav Rostropovich. First performance in March 1988 in Washington by the Washington National SO, Mstislav Rostropovich cond.
  • Flageolets for Toru Takemitsu, for symphony orchestra (1990). First performance on 9 October 1990 in Tokyo by the Tokyo SO, H. Iwaki cond.
  • Chrystal Gusli for symphony orchestra (1994). Dedicated to Toru Takemitsu. First performance on 21 November 1994 in Moscow by the Moscow State SO, I. Golovchin cond.
  • Russian Photographs, music for string orchestra (1994). Dedicated to Vladimir Spivakov and the "Moscow Virtuosi". First performance on 29 Juli 1995 in Gstaad by the Moscow Virtuosi, V. Spivakov cond.
  • Shepherd's Pipes of Vologda (Homage to Bartok) for oboe, English horn, horn and strings (1995). Commissioned by the Hungarian Radio. First performance on 1 October 1995 in the Marble Hall of Budapest by the Concentus Hungaricus Chamber Orchestra, Bela Kollar (oboe), Gergely Hamar (English horn), Zoltan Varga (horn), Laszlo Kovacs cond.
  • Glorification (Velicanie) for string orchestra (1995). Commissioned by the World Economic Forum. First performance on 6 February 1996 in Davos at the World Economic Forum by the Moscow Chamber Orchestra, Constantine Orbelian cond.
  • Slava, Slava (A Festive Ringing of Bells), for orchestra (1997). Dedicated to Mstislav Rostropovich for his 70th birthday. First performance 27 March 1997 in Paris by the Orchestre National de France, Seiji Ozawa cond.
  • Preludium to Beethoven's Symphony No. 9, for orchestra (1999). Commissioned by the Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra. First performance on 5 January 2000 in the Meistersingerhalle of Nürnberg by the Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra, Jac van Steen cond.
  • Lolita Serenade, symphonic fragments from the opera Lolita (2001). Commissioned by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra to Mariss Jansons. First performance on 28 September 2001 in Pittsburgh by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Mariss Jansons cond.
  • Dialogues with Shostakovich, symphonic etudes for orchestra (2001). Commissioned by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. First performance on 8 November 2002 in Pittsburgh by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Mariss Jansons cond.
  • Vivat!, St. Petersburg Overture (2008). First performance: 12 December 2008 in St. Petersburg by the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Mariss Jansons cond.
  • Beethoven's Heiligenstädter Testament (2008). Commissioned by the Bayerischer Rundfunk. First performance: 18 December 2008 in München by the Orchester des Bayerische Rundfunks, Mariss Jansons cond.
  • Symphonic Diptych (2009). First performance: 20 April 2009 in Moscow by the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra, Valery Gergiev cond.
  • Lithuanian Saga (2009). First performance: 13 May 2009 in Vilnius by the London Symphony Orchestra, Valery Gergiev cond.
  • Moscow-Petushki, dramatic fragment (2013). Commissioned by the Verbier Festival.

Vocal music

For soloist, chorus and orchestra

  • Bureaucratiade, satirical cantata for soloists, chorus and small orchestra (1963). To texts of "Rules for Those Staying at the Kurpaty Boarding House". First performance on 24 February 1965 in Moscow by an Ensemble of Soloists and Chamber Orchestra, V. Delman (cond).
  • Poetoria, concerto for poet accompanied by a woman's voice, mixed chorus and symphony orchestra (1968). To words by A. Voznesensky. First performance on 24 February 1968 in Moscow by the USSR Radio & TV SO and Chorus, Gennady Rozhdestvensky (cond), Andrei Voznesensky (poet).
  • Lenin Is Amongst Us, oratorio for soprano, alt and bass, mixed chorus and symphony orchestra (1969). Traditional text. Dedicated to Lenin's centenary. First performance on 6 February 1970 in Moscow by the USSR Radio & TV SO and Chorus, Gennady Rozhdestvensky (cond), L. Zykina, L. Belobragina & A. Eisen (soloists).
  • Long Life (Mnogia Leta) for mixed chorus, piano solo and three groups of percussion instruments (1991). Dedicated to G. Rozhdestvensky. First performance on 5 May 1991 in Moscow with Valery Polyansky (cond).
  • Prayer (Molenie) for mixed chorus and symphony orchestra (1991). To words by Yehudi Menuhin. First performance on 7 March 1991 in Moscow by the Moscow Chamber Chorus and the USSR Ministry of Culture SO, Yehudi Menuhin (cond).

For one part solo

  • Song and Ditties of Varvara from the Opera "Not Love Alone" (1961). Arrangement for mezzo-soprano and piano.
  • Three Solfege Exercises, sonata for high voice and piano (1965). First performance on 13 October 1967 in Moscow by Z. Dolukhanova (voice) and N. Svetlanova (piano).
  • Laments for voice with piano accompaniment (1965). Traditional words by V. Bokov. First performance on 31 January 1966 in Moscow by I. Arkhipova (voice) and R. Shchedrin (piano).
  • "Tanja – Katja", songs without words in folkstyle for soprano and orchestra (2002). First performance on 12 December 2002 in Moscow by Russia State SO, Dmitry Sitkovetsky (cond), M. Gavrilova (voice)
  • "Tanja – Katja II", songs without words in folkstyle for female voice and violin (2002)
  • "My Age, My Wild Beast", vocal cycle for tenor, narrator and piano. Text by Osip Mandelstam. First performance on 6 February 2003 in Cologne Philharmonic by Mark Tucker (tenor) and Vladimir Ashkenazy (piano)
  • Grusha's Gypsy Song (2008). First performance: 3 August 2008 in Verbier by Kristina Kapustinskaya and the Verbier Festival Orchestra, conducted by Valery Gergiev.
  • "Cleopatra and the Serpent", a dramatic scene for woman's voice and orchestra (2011). Words from the final scenes of Shakespeare's tragedy "Antony and Cleopatra" in a translation of Boris Pasternak (2011). First performance on 28 May 2012 at the Salzburg Festival by M. Erdmann and the Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre, Valery Gergiev (cond).
  • Balalaečka - Minoročka, romance in folk style on folk verses from old notebooks for female voice and string orchestra (2015)

Choruses a cappella

  • Two Choruses to Lyrics by Alexander Pushkin for unaccompanied mixed chorus (1950)
  • The Willow, vocalise for unaccompanied mixed chorus (1954)
  • Four Choruses to Lyrics by Alexander Tvardovsky for unaccompanied mixed chorus (1968)
  • Four Choruses to Lyrics by Andrei Voznesensky for unaccompanied mixed chorus (1971)
  • Russian Villages, for unaccompanied mixed chorus (1973). Chorus to lyrics by Ivan Khabarov.
  • A Woman was Washing Clothes, for unaccompanied mixed chorus (1975). Chorus to lyrics by J. Lyapin.
  • The Execution of Pugachev, poem for mixed chorus a cappella (1981). Text by Alexander Pushkin. First performance on 10 March 1983 in Tallinn by the Moscow Conservatory Student's Chorus, Boris Tevlin (cond).
  • Lines (Stanzas) from Eugene Onegin for mixed chorus a cappella (1981). Text by Alexander Pushkin. First performance in May 1982 in Moscow by the Conservatory Student's Chorus, B. Tevlin (cond).
  • Concertino in four movements for chorus a cappella (1982). Commissioned by the Cork International Choral Festival. First performance on 5 May 1982 in Cork, Ireland by the Cork Festival Chorus and the Lialiumai Chorus, Albinas Piatrauskas (cond).
  • The Sealed Angel , Russian liturgy for mixed chorus a cappella with shepherd's pipe (1988). Russian orthodox text. First performance on 18 June 1988 in the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall of Moscow by the Moscow Chamber Chorus and the State Academic Chorus of the USSR, Vladimir Minin (cond), Alexander Golyshev (flute).
  • Two Russian Choirs (2008). First performance: 12 September 2008 in Moscow by the National Choir of Russian Conservatories, conducted by Boris Tevlin.
  • Russian Folk Proverbs for mixed chous a cappella (2019)
  • Maya Plisetskaya — Eternal memory: Mass of Remembrance on the Epitath of Nikolai Gogol (2019), for mixed chous a cappella.

Piano works

Chamber and instrumental works


Honours and awards

  1. in the nomination "The best essay in contemporary academic music" for the "Concerto cantabile" (1997)
  2. in the nomination "The best work of contemporary composer of classical music" for the opera The Enchanted Wanderer (2009)

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  1. "Plisetskaya, Shchedrin settle in Lithuania".
  2. [ bare URL PDF ]
  3. Freed, Richard (18 March 2004). "Concerto for Orchestra No. 1, "Naughty Limericks"". The Kennedy Center . Retrieved 15 December 2019.
  4. Volker Milchs: Oper Lolita – Deutschlandpremiere bei den 115. Maifestspielen in Wiesbaden Archived 9 August 2011 at the Wayback Machine , Wiesbadener Tagblatt , 1 May 2011 (in German)
  5. "Levsha (The Left-Hander)". Schott Music. 2012–2013.