Thursday, March 02, 2006

The John F. Kennedy Center For The Performing Arts/National Symphony Orchestra Shostakovich Centennial To Be Guest Curated By Mstislav Rostropovich

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, in Washington, D.C., and its resident National Symphony Orchestra, are organizing, for November 2006, a tribute to the great 20th century Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich on the centennial of his birth. The Tribute will be guest curated by the world-renowned cellist and conductor, Mstislav Rostropovich, who now lives in Moscow and Paris, but who lived in Washington, D.C. part-time in the 1970s, 1980s, and early 1990s.

According to this morning's Washington Post, before he died in 1975, Shostakovich told Mstislav Rostropovich, the cellist and former NSO music director, what works he wanted included in a centennial festival. Mstislav Rostropovich, and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the National Symphony Orchestra, will fulfill Shostakovich's request over six evenings from November 2 to 11, 2006.

Additionally, the Emerson String Quartet -- named after the great American 19th century visionary thinker -- will perform eight of Shostakovich's great string quartets at the Kennedy Center from October 10-12, 2006; and they will be joined by pianist Joseph Kalichstein for a performance of the Shostakovich Piano Quintet -- composed in remembrance of the composer's mother.

Also, in January 2007 [subject to date confirmation] the great Kirov [Mariinsky Theater] Opera, from Petersburg, Russia, and under conductor Valery Gergiev, will perform a concert version of Shostakovich's powerful Lady MacBeth of Mtsensk, in the Kennedy Center Opera House. This modernist operatic masterpiece met with the displeasure of Stalin when it was first premiered in the 1930s; but has gone on to be performed in almost all of the great opera houses of the world -- including recently at the Metropolitan Opera and the San Francisco Opera.

Centennial Festival Guest Curator Rostropovich has announced the six masterpieces that Shostakovich wanted performed at his Centennial Tribute. These six masterpieces are six of the finest works of the whole twentieth century. (Missing from the Tribute are Shostakovich's supreme and intensely personal song-cycles, and the Choral-Symphony #13 "Babyn Yar" -- his tribute to Jewish Nazi victims in Kyiv (Kiev), Ukraine.)

The six scheduled works in the Tribute are:

Festive Overture

Symphony #8
Symphony #10

Piano Concerto #1 (with Trumpet Soloist)
Violin Concerto #1
Cello Concerto #2

Mstislav Rostropovich has asked the following world-class soloists to join him in this world classical music event: pianist Martha Argerich, violinist Maxim Vengerov, cellist Yo Yo Ma, and trumpeter Steven Hendrickson.

The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the National Symphony have already made musicologist Richard Freed's program note to the Shostakovich Violin Concerto #1 available on its shared Web-site at:


Russian Sculptor Ernst Neizvestny's Bust of Dmitri Shostakovich in the Foyer of the Concert Hall of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, DC, USA. This sculpture was a gift of Mstislav Rostropovich to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

"I think of sculpture not as a person, animal or other natural or geometrical form situated in space: the sculpture contains within itself a dialogue between spirit and flesh."
-- Ernst Neizvestny

Image credit: (c) Ernst Neizvestny Studio 1999, 2000. All Rights Reserved. Via With thanks.


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