Quartet Movement in E-flat major (Shostakovich)

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The Quartet Movement in E-flat major, also known as the Unfinished Quartet,[1] is the first movement of a projected string quartet in E-flat major by Dmitri Shostakovich, that was rediscovered in 2003.


Shostakovich's Ninth String Quartet had a difficult creation process, with at least one completed version being destroyed by the composer in 1961, as described by Elizabeth Wilson in her biography Shostakovich: A Life Remembered, "Shostakovich finished the first version of the Ninth Quartet in the autumn of 1961. In a fit of depression, or, to quote his own words, 'in an attack of healthy self-criticism, I burnt it in the stove. This is the second such case in my creative practice. I once did a similar trick of burning my manuscripts, in 1926.'"[2]

Until 2003 it was believed that nothing had survived of the earlier version(s). In that year, musicologists Olga Digonskaya and Olga Dombrovskaya found a manuscript entitled "Quartet No. 9/I DShostakovich/op.113' Key Es-dur, tempo Allegretto".[lower-alpha 1][1] which comprised both a complete rough draft of a string quartet movement and a partially completed fair score of the same movement.

Performance history

In early 2005, Roman Ledenyov created a performing version from the rough draft, which the Borodin Quartet premiered on January 15, 2005.[1][3]

In 2006 the Alexandra String Quartet recorded the movement for CD.[4][5]

As part their 20th anniversary concert series entitled the Fragments Project the Brentano String Quartet commissioned composer Stephen Hartke to write a companion piece to the movement. The piece entitled "From The Fifth Book" was completed in 2011.[6]


The composition consists of a single movement marked Allegretto and lasts around seven to eight minutes in performance.[7]


  1. Opus 113 was later assigned to the Thirteenth Symphony.

External links