"King Lear". Music for Shakespeare's tragedy.
Translation by M. Kuzmin and A. Radlova: "Songs of the Fool" translated by S. Marshak.
The premiere took place on March 24, 1941 in Leningrad in the Gorky Bolshoi Drama Theatre. Directed by G. Kozintsev.
Manuscripts: The score is in the archive of the composer's family.
First Edition: D. Shostakovich, Collected Works, Vol. 27, Moscow, 1987.
"Shakespeare's tragedies in themselves are extraordinary works: music is born from the poetry and dynamics of these tragedies. Shakespeare, it would seem, loved music himself and was sensitive to its mighty power and enchantment. Otherwise he would not have created such a famous scene of the sick King Lear waking to music.
It is difficult to write music to plays by Shakespeare. The author of 'Hamlet' and 'King Lear' is incompatible with any kind of banality. The same would apply to petty, trite emotion. I think when one speaks of the scale of Shakespeare, one has in mind his scale of feeling and breadth of imagination, rather than external bulk and pomp. In 'King Lear' I am thrilled and moved by the character of the Fool. Without him the tragedy of Lear and Cordelia would not have sounded so overwhelming".
(D. Shostakovich, "King Lear"published in the journal "Muzykalnaya Zhizn", 1976, No.17)