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March of the Soviet Militia

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Dmitri Shostakovich

Dmitri Shostakovich (ed. Iakubov)


Subtitle: For Wind Orchestra

This work bears the designation Opus 139.


General Info

Year: 1970 / 2006
Duration: c. 1:35
Difficulty: IV (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Music Sales Classical
Cost: Score and Parts - Rental


Instrumentation

Full Score
Flute
Oboe I-II
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
B-flat Trumpet I-II
Horn in F I-II
Trombone I-II-III
Timpani
Percussion


Errata

None discovered thus far.


Program Notes

There are several amazing aspects to Shostakovich's late work for military band, The March of the Soviet Militia, Op. 139 (1970). First, it is amazing that so late in life, when so little compositional energy remained in his ailing body, that Shostakovich would compose so slight a piece of occasional music. Second, it is amazing that Shostakovich would compose a work for the Soviet Police, an organization that had hung over his head like a threat since he had first been condemned by the Soviet state in 1936.

Third, it is amazing that Shostakovich could compose such a blandly bombastic work so late in his career, when works like the agonizing final quartets and the ironically tragic last symphony were gestating in his mind. But the most amazing thing about The March of the Soviet Militia is that Shostakovich dedicated it to his old friend and poker-playing buddy, Mikhail Zoshchenko, a beloved comic writer and a none-too-well-concealed subversive. That Shostakovich would compose such a dumb and brutal work to a dumb and brutal militia is amazing; that he would dedicate it to a comedian clearly reveals his intentions.

- Program Note by James Leonard


Written very near the end of the composer’s life, the March of the Soviet Militia, Op.139 is the penultimate work in the Shostakovich orchestral catalogue, preceded by Symphony No. 14 and followed by Symphony No. 15. The contrast in styles between the march and its heavy-weight neighbours could not be greater, as Shostakovich clearly gave the Soviet militia exactly what it wanted: a quick, exuberant and virtuosic showpiece with which to entertain and delight audiences and troops.


- Program Note from liner notes of CD Russian Wind Band Classics, Chandos


Dmitri Shostakovich wrote this march at the request of one of the worst scoundrels of the Brezhnev ‘stagnation era’, Nikolai Shcholokov – who happened to be Minister of the Soviet police. Galina Vishnevskaya, who was present at the dinner when Shcholokov asked the great Shostakovich for a march, has told of the grotesque incident. How the minister then reacted to the witty and ironic March of the Soviet Police which was the result, is not known; after Brezhnev’s death, Shcholokov’s criminal deeds were disclosed, and he shot himself.

- Program Note from liner notes of CD Russian Concert Band Music, Chandos


Commercial Discography


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


Performances

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Works for Winds by this Composer


Resources