Two currently presented romances by Dmitry Shostakovich are completely unknown and have never been published; even the location of the composer’s manuscripts is not known. The photocopies of these manuscripts, recently handed over to the Moscow Shostakovich Archive by St Petersburg musicologist Andrey N. Kryukov, serve as the only source for the music text. Their first edition is timed to the 110th Anniversary celebration of the composer’s birth and has been published with the approval of Irina Antonovna Shostakovich and Galina Dmitriyevna and Maxim Dmitriyevich Shostakovich.
Romances have neither titles nor dates. The first of those is attributed by Olga Digonskaya to the motion picture Belinsky by Grigory Kozintsev on the ground of its lyrics and Shostakovich’s letter to Grigory Kozintsev, where the former informs the latter of sending a romance called Willow to him. However by the ruling of Artistic Council of the USSR Cinema Ministry this romance was withdrawn together with the scene where it belonged.
This romance is based on Ivan Kozlov’s poem Desdemona’s Romance (1830), which is in turn a free translation of the famous “willow” song, being sung by this Shakespeare character in the 4th act of his Othello tragedy. There is no title in the manuscript, since Shostakovich did not intend to use the romance anywhere except the motion picture and did not plan to publish it. Most probably the title Willow was given provisionally, to match its contents.
The second romance, written to Alexander Pushkin’s poem Dar Naprasnyi, Dar Sluchaynyi... (A Gift in Vain, a Gift by Chance...,1828), have no title like the previous one. In Olga Digonskaya’s opinion, in all probability it was also intended for the Belinsky motion picture.
The romances are published on basis of their manuscript photocopies. The first is given the title of the corresponding verses, the second is named after the first line of Pushkin’s poem. Markings made in the Desdemona’s Romance not in the composer’s hand are ignored. Errors are corrected without further notice.
DESDEMONA’S ROMANCE (Music text example)
A GIFT IN VAIN, A GIFT BY CHANCE…