Christian Thielemann

Christian Thielemann

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Dmitri Shostakovich: Jazz Suite No.1 – Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Riccardo Chailly (Audio video)

Azat Minnekaev (b. 1958)

Though Dmitri Shostakovich seemed destined to greatness in the classical tradition, he also loved popular music. He was taken with Jewish folk and theater music, for example, and with the gypsy tunes his father frequently sang around the house. He was also unabashedly in love with the cinema. In fact, he wrote over 30 film scores, many during periods in which he had fallen out of favor with the Soviet authorities and had trouble getting concert performances.

The years 1929-1933 were busy ones for Shostakovich, especially writing music for films. Sound had been recently introduced in cinema, and as dialog and sound effects became more prominent, musical segments began to shrink. Also, directors were searching for new and exotic sounds. The Golden Mountains, a 1931 film by Sergei Yutkevich, was a perfect example. Shostakovich experimented with a variety of unusual and offbeat instruments in his score for that film, including the theremin (an electronic instrument invented by Russian Leo Theremin, forerunner of the modern synthesizer), the flexitone, the American banjo, and the electrified Hawaiian lap guitar. Rather than just writing extended compositions, he also wrote pop-style tunes for the film; the song "If Only I Had Mountains of Gold" became "all the rage" after the film's release, according to Soviet cinema expert Herbert Marshall.

Shostakovich's experience in those years certainly influenced the sound of the 1934 Suite for Jazz Orchestra (No.1), which was commissioned by a Leningrad dance band. His "take" on jazz is whimsical, indeed, reflecting his interest in gypsy music and in the music of the Yiddish theater more than it does the sound of American jazz. It also reflects his penchant for offbeat instruments, not to mention his ability to spin a tune.

The first movement, an upbeat Waltz, opens with a catchy tune in the trumpet, followed by saxophone, then violin. A chirpy middle section features glockenspiel prominently. Shostakovich briefly flirts with the minor mode, then returns to the tunefulness of the opening.

The second movement, a convivial Polka, continues the chirpiness, with xylophone featured first. Muted brass plays next, while the driving banjo plays the off beats. Both alto and tenor sax have their say before the violin has the last word with a chipper solo featuring the spiccato (bouncing) bowing technique.

The Finale, marked "Foxtrot" in the score, starts with a brassy opening, followed by a sinuous melody played by saxophone. The most peculiar section, which hearkens back to his film score from The Golden Mountain, features the Hawaiian guitar taking the melody while a trombone slithers around underneath in accompaniment. Trombone next takes a turn at the melody, followed by another splash of glockenspiel, a return of the saxophones, and an assertive ending by the ensemble.

Orchestration: soprano saxophone (= alto 2), alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, percussion (drum, woodblock, cymbal, bells, xylophone), piano, banjo, Hawaiian guitar, violin, and bass.

Source: Dr. Dave Kopplin (

Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975)

♪ Jazz Suite No.1 (1934)

i. Waltz
ii. Polka
iii. Foxtrot

Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Conductor: Riccardo Chailly

Grotezaal, Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, February 1990

Decca 1991

(HD 1080p – Audio video)

First publication: March 24, 2015 – Last update: June 10, 2017

See also


Dmitri Shostakovich: Symphony No.7 in C major "Leningrad" – hr-Sinfonieorchester, Marin Alsop (HD 1080p)

George Gershwin: Piano Concerto in F major | Dmitri Shostakovich: Symphony No.5 in D minor – Yuja Wang, London Symphony Orchestra, Michael Tilson Thomas

Dmitri Shostakovich: Symphony No.5 in D minor – BBC Symphony Orchestra, Edward Gardner

Dmitri Shostakovich: Symphony No.13 in B flat minor "Babi Yar" – Sergei Aleksashkin, Groot Omroepmannenkoor, Radio Filharmonisch Orkest, Dima Slobodeniouk

Dmitri Shostakovich: Symphony No.4 in C minor – Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, David Afkham

Dmitri Shostakovich: Symphony No.14 in G minor – Makvala Kasrashvili, Evgeny Nesterenco, Moscow Chamber Orchestra, Rudolf Barshai (Audio video)


Dmitri Shostakovich: Violin Concerto No.1 in A minor – Nicola Benedetti, Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Thomas Søndergård (HD 1080p)

Dmitri Shostakovich: Cello Concerto No.1 in E flat major – Alexander Warenberg, Symphony Orchestra of the Conservatorium van Amsterdam, Judith Kubitz

Dmitri Shostakovich: Cello Concerto No.1 in E flat major, & Symphony No.1 in F minor | Benjamin Britten: Sinfonietta, Op.1 – Steven Isserlis, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Teodor Currentzis (HD 1080p)

Dmitri Shostakovich: Cello Concerto No.2 in G major – Mstislav Rostropovich, Prague Symphony Orchestra, Yevgeny Svetlanov (World premiere recording, Prague, December 6, 1967 – Audio video)

Dmitri Shostakovich: Cello Concerto No.1 in E flat major – Mstislav Rostropovich, Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, Aleksandr Gauk (World premiere recording, Moscow, October 6, 1959 – Audio video)

Dmitri Shostakovich: Piano Concerto No.1 in C minor – Martha Argerich, David Guerrier, Verbier Festival Chamber Orchestra, Gábor Takács-Nagy

Dmitri Shostakovich plays the end of his First Piano Concerto (1940)

Dmitri Shostakovich: Piano Concerto No.2 in F major – Dmitri Shostakovich, Orchestre National de France, André Cluytens (Audio video)

Dmitri Shostakovich: Concerto for Piano, Trumpet and Strings in C minor – Dmitri Shostakovich, Orchestre National de France, André Cluytens (Audio video)


Dmitri Shostakovich: Suite for Promenade Orchestra (Jazz Suite No.2) – Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Riccardo Chailly (Audio video)

Chamber Music

Dmitri Shostakovich: Piano Trio No.2 in E minor – Delta Piano Trio (HD 1080p)

Dmitri Shostakovich: Piano Trio No.1 in C minor – Janine Jansen, Torleif Thedéen, Eldar Nebolsin

Piano Works

Dmitri Shostakovich: 3 Fantastic Dances, 5 Preludes & Fugues – Dmitri Shostakovich (Audio video)

Song Cycles

Dmitri Shostakovich: Song-cycle: From Jewish Folk Poetry – Tatiana Sharova, Ludmila Kuznetsova, Alexei Martynov, Russian State Symphony Orchestra, Valeri Polyansky (Audio video)


Shostakovich Against Stalin: The War Symphonies – A Documentary by Larry Weinstein – Netherland Radio Philharmonic, Kirov Orchestra, Valery Gergiev (HD 1080p)

Dmitri Shostakovich: Katerina Izmailova (Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk), 1966 – A film by Mikhail Shapiro – Galina Vishnevskaya, Konstantin Simeonov

The New Babylon (Novyy Vavilon), 1929 – A film by Grigori Kozintsev & Leonid Trauberg – Music by Dmitri Shostakovich (HD 1080p)

Film Music

Dmitri Shostakovich: Film music from New Babylon – Russian State Symphony Orchestra, Valeri Polyansky (Audio video)

Texts (in Greek)

Μουσική υπό διωγμό: οι πολιτικές διώξεις του Σοστακόβιτς – Μέρος Α

Μουσική υπό διωγμό: οι πολιτικές διώξεις του Σοστακόβιτς – Μέρος Β

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