Dmitri Shostakovich


Berceuse (from Ballet Suite No.3)

Emir Gamsız, piano


This piece is in the album:

"Classical Lullabies"

Read about the album: Click here.

Read about the composer: Click here.

Read about the pianist: Click here.


This Lullaby was adapted from Shostakovich's ballet suite # 3 for piano. Was Shostakovich serious in a light-hearted way or being ironic in a tragic way? Did he compose the Ballet Suite No.3 from 1952 as merely a divertissement of cheerfully simple-minded dance numbers, or was he subtly undermining the whole notion of light music with his cheeky melodies and bouncy rhythms? Was the Ballet Suite No. 3 a positive reaction to the reactionary politics of the Composer's Union which had condemned him as a formalist in 1948, a Soviet composer's reply to "just" criticism, or a sarcastic reply in the form of ironic obsequiousness.

Between the years 1929 and 1969 Shostakovich composed nearly 50 film scores and was equally active from about the same time to 1940 as a composer of incidental music for stage productions. His theatrical and film music often differ greatly from his now better-known symphonic and other concert music. It is more direct, tuneful, and full of marches, waltzes, polkas, and other set pieces. 

Shostakovich actually began his theatrical career while still a conservatory student playing piano in silent cinemas. One of these theaters had been run by Vsevolod Meyerhold, a director who also staged live presentations. He and Shostakovich first collaborated on stage in a production of Mayakovsky's The Bedbug in 1929. He also directed a strange "anti-bourgeois" production of Shakespeare's Hamlet in 1932, for which Shostakovich wrote a brilliantly sarcastic score. The Hamlet production was a hit.

few years later, Shostakovich was willing to collaborate with Meyerhold again when the director proposed staging Balzac's classic The Human Comedy at the same theater a couple of years later, in a translation and adaptation by Sukhotin.This time, however, the construction failed and the curtains were closed soon after. Shostakovich might have thought of keeping his musical material and using it in future compositions, but instead of keeping the works waiting, in 1952 he allowed some of the music to be included in the Ballet Suite No. 3, which Lev Atovmyan organized from various theater and film music. 

One of the most striking ideas of this music is the soft and grand theme, depicting panoramic scenes such as the seaside and rooftops of Paris, accompanied by a waltz rhythm. By contrast, short-genre pieces are also available, featuring a charming gavotte, a quick anthem, and a satirical anthem for a police team in the composer's typical "cop" style. The six parts of the Third Suite are: Waltz, Gavotte, Dance, Elegy, Waltz, and Galop. The result is a virtual caricature, even a parody, of the composer, created with Shostakovich's own approval.