String Quartet No. 15 (Shostakovich)

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The String Quartet No. 15 in E-flat minor, Op. 144, was Dmitri Shostakovich's last quartet. It was completed on 17 May 1974 and premiered in Leningrad by the Taneiev Quartet on 15 November (one of only two Shostakovich quartets not premiered by the Beethoven Quartet). Like most of the composer's late works, it is an introspective meditation on mortality.[citation needed]


The piece consists of six linked movements, all marked Adagio:

  1. Elegy: Adagio
  2. Serenade: Adagio
  3. Intermezzo: Adagio
  4. Nocturne: Adagio
  5. Funeral March: Adagio molto
  6. Epilogue: Adagio

The playing time is approximately 36 minutes, making it the longest of Shostakovich's string quartets.

Shostakovich told the Beethoven Quartet to play the first movement "so that flies drop dead in mid-air, and the audience start leaving the hall from sheer boredom".[1]

An original recording of the quartet performed by the Fitzwilliam Quartet (backed with Shostakovich's String Quartet No. 8 in C minor) was released on Decca in 1976. Shostakovich supervised the production.


  1. Wilson 1994, p. 470
  • Wilson, Elizabeth (1994). Shostakovich: A Life Remembered. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-04465-1.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

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