|About this Recording
8.574100 - SHOSTAKOVICH, D.: Bedbug (The) / Love and Hate (Mannheim Opera Choir, Rheinland-Pfalz State Philharmonic, Fitz-Gerald)
Dmitry Shostakovich (1906–1975)
The Bedbug, Op. 19
The first performance of The Bedbug, sarcastically entitled a ‘faerie comedy in nine scenes’ (anything further from ‘faerie’ than this knockabout farce it would be hard to imagine), took place on 12 February 1929 at the Meyerhold Theatre in Moscow. The occasion was an event, not least because it involved the collaboration of some of the most prominent Soviet artists of the time. The author, Vladimir Mayakovsky (1893–1930), was the most well-known poet and literary activist of the age, notorious even before the Revolution as a ‘Futurist’, and now the highly troubled and troublesome leader of Soviet artistic modernism. The director was Vsevolod Meyerhold himself (1874–1940), legendary pioneer of theatrical innovation in the 20th century, and an indefatigable promoter of younger colleagues, including the film director Eisenstein and the composer Prokofiev. The designer was Alexander Rodchenko (1891–1956), a well-known all-round avantgardist, now best remembered as creator of some of the most distinctive photographic icons of the Soviet epoch. And the composer was the still young Dmitry Shostakovich, 23 years old but already the author of two dazzling symphonies and an opera.
Accounts vary, but mostly suggest that the play—a blistering and highly ambiguous satire, making fun simultaneously of the utopian dreams of Communism and the petit bourgeois vulgarity and corruption that flourished in the wake of Lenin’s New Economic Policy (NEP)—was a success with audiences but unpopular with officialdom. Hardly surprising: on page after page, Mayakovsky scores uproarious points off his many enemies, and party functionaries are the butt of many of his best jokes.
For Shostakovich, the practical experience of this production was an important one, launching, along with his opera The Nose of the previous year, a brief but prolific career over the next few years as a composer of incidental music, silent movie scores, music hall and light entertainment, three full-length ballets and his operatic masterpiece, Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District. Work on this production also brought him into a close, but somewhat unbalanced friendship with Meyerhold himself, who adored his new young protégé but always wanted to dominate the relationship, as hilariously documented by Shostakovich in several letters of the period.
By his own account, the composer was less impressed by the flamboyant figure of Mayakovsky, privately telling friends later in life that he couldn’t bear the famous poet’s vanity and hypocrisy. In public, he contented himself with a well-honed anecdote about how when he first met Mayakovsky, the great man haughtily instructed him to write music in the style of ‘local firemen’s bands’, not ‘symphonies’. That might have been a putdown, but Soviet firemen—and their music—are an important part of the plot of The Bedbug and the author was within his rights to say this was what he wanted.
Apart from firemen’s bands, other stylistic influences on this score include the then fashionable Hindemith and Weill (the young Shostakovich was outspoken in his praise of Hindemith, and early in 1927 he visited Berlin—his first trip abroad—where he seems to have encountered both Weill and Weimar-style cabaret), as well as cheap operetta. And prompted by Mayakovsky, Shostakovich has good fun at the expense of Soviet ceremonial music (fanfares, hymns and marches) and the four-square genre of Pioneer songs for schoolchildren and scout troops.
Also entertaining are those numbers where we feel the composer’s growing interest in jazz and American dance music, wildly popular at this time in Europe and the Soviet Union, especially after Sam Wooding toured Weimar Germany with his Chocolate Kiddies in 1925 and then on to Leningrad and Moscow the following year.
Mayakovsky’s text sets out where he expected music. But, to judge by surviving manuscripts, in rehearsals Meyerhold came up with other ideas. Several pages have extensive notes in the director’s hand, with instructions for cuts, re-orderings, and the recycling of various bits at different points in the play. How many of these rehearsal room thoughts found their way into the finished production is harder to say. What we have in this recording, therefore, is pretty much what Shostakovich wrote in response to Mayakovsky’s original script and stage directions, with the added pleasure of Mark Fitz-Gerald’s new orchestrations of three numbers where Shostakovich’s score has gone missing—or may never have existed, as the music was simply played onstage by actors on a piano or a couple of accordions.
The action of The Bedbug is set—for comic effect—in the provincial city of Tambov, in the middle of the Russian countryside, halfway between Moscow and the Black Sea. Its nine short scenes fall into two parts.
Part One (scenes 1–4) takes place in 1929, a year only just begun when the play was given its first performance: an ex-Party member called Prisïpkin, now a vulgar Nepman (i.e. someone greedily taking advantage of the opportunities for private enterprise afforded by the New Economic Policy), dumps his loyal working-class girlfriend Zoya in favour of a frivolous and social-climbing beautician called Elzevir. But when Prisïpkin and Elzevir get married in the private beauty parlour where she works as cashier and manicurist, her dress catches on fire during an argument, and everyone burns to death. As the fire brigade pick their way through the water-logged rubble, they find one corpse is missing: Prisïpkin.
By the beginning of Part Two (scenes 5–9), set half a century ahead in 1979, Prisïpkin’s remains have been discovered and exhumed from the site of the old beauty parlour. By this time, Communism has triumphed internationally, NEP is a distant memory, individual countries have been abolished, and members of the worldwide governing Assembly of the Federation, communicating their votes electronically from wherever they happen to live, happily agree to hand over the mysterious corpse to the Institute of Human Resurrection, where it can be brought back to life through the miraculous power of modern science.
Unfortunately, Prisïpkin soon starts stirring up as much trouble in his new life as in his old, especially after it turns out he has also brought a revolting bedbug with him, clinging to his back. In the brave new hygienic world of 1979, there are supposedly no bedbugs left, just as there are no more self-serving petit bourgeois vulgarians like Prisïpkin. After various adventures in which the bedbug and Prisïpkin corrupt innocent modern people with their venal, disgusting and out-of-date ways, by the end of the play they are both locked up in a zoo, confined to the same cage to be exhibited as filthy relics of a bygone era, under the labels Bedbugus normalis and Philistinus vulgaris.
The opening March 1 , a fine example of Firemen’s Band music, sets the scene. A cheeky Foxtrot follows 2 and a Galop in the style of an Offenbach cancan 3 , music which also appears in the composer’s first film-score, The New Babylon, which premiered only a few weeks after The Bedbug. Waltz No. 1 4 was apparently intended for the riotous wedding celebration in the beauty parlour, as also the Intermezzo 5 and the toasting songs from the Wedding Scene 6 (toasting is a serious business at Russian celebrations!).
Fire 7 was obviously meant for the conflagration and set change between scenes 3 and 4 (even if Meyerhold wanted to use fragments of it in other parts of the play), and the Fire Signals 8 and amusingly moralising Firemen’s Choir 9 complete the first half.
Scene in the Public Garden 10 covers the change from scene 6 to scene 7, with its joshing stage direction depicting the Brave New World of urban design in 1979:
‘In the middle of the stage, a triangular public garden. In the garden, three artificial trees. The first tree has square green leaves laden with enormous plates with mandarins on them. The second tree has paper plates with apples. The third tree—green, with fir cones—has open bottles of scent …’
The remaining numbers belong to the final scene at the city zoo including a group of keen young Pioneers (Soviet scouts) on a day off from school 11 , a delegation of City Elders 12 13 , a second Waltz 14 and, returning us to the world of Firemen’s Bands, a Closing March 15 .
Love and Hate, Op. 38
Whatever the Soviet Union’s internal and external political aims, in the years immediately after the Revolution, it had to develop an international trade policy. As Germany was seen as the next candidate for a socialist revolution, and was itself suffering economic difficulties, it became the target for both trade and propaganda. One of the bridgeheads was cinema, through a network of coproduction and distribution companies. One of the best known was Mezhrabpomfilm, whose name derived from the abbreviated Russian name International Workers’ Relief. It produced several politically and critically lauded films but tensions between Berlin and Moscow grew as the German studio was seen as insufficiently political and increasingly independent.
In the early 1930s, the aesthetic theory of Socialist Realism exacerbated this tension, but worse was to come as both the Soviets and the Nazis purged employees who were, for different reasons, deemed undesirable. In the mid-1930s the Party took direct control, before stopping the co-production deal in 1937, so that some of its last films had problematic production processes or were poorly promoted. Unfortunately for Shostakovich, this was exactly when he became involved with two films for the studio complex.
The first was Fighters aka The Struggle, made in Moscow under the Rot-Front label (the German cast and crew members had fled Hitler), and released in Russian and German versions. This tortured project, part of the Left’s furious reaction to the Reichstag fire and the trial of Georgi Dimitrov, was initiated in 1935 but finally released only in 1938. The first director, Joris Ivens, was gradually replaced by Gustav Wangenhem (who had dropped his aristocratic ‘von’), while Shostakovich was brought in to replace Hanns Eisler. Perhaps the storm over Lady Macbeth contributed to his being replaced in his turn by Hans Hauska, without, it seems, having contributed a single note. But the film’s problems didn’t end there, as several cast members were arrested and sent to the Gulag. All in all, Shostakovich had probably had a narrow escape.
In 1935 Shostakovich also scored a pure Soviet Mezhrabpomfilm production—Love and Hate, set in a mining village in the Donetsk Basin in 1919, during the Civil War. The men leave to join the Reds so that when General Denikin’s White Army arrives it is left to the women to fight back.
The director was Albert Alexandrovich Gendelshtein, born just six months before Shostakovich in Kiev’s Jewish quarter. He graduated from the State Film School and was taken to Mezhrabpomfilm to make short documentaries and work on Pudovkin’s The End of St Petersburg (1927) along with fellow student Alexander Faintsimmer (later the director of Lieutenant Kizhe and The Gadfly [Naxos 8.573747])—they worked out how to make the statue of Alexander III weep. In 1934 Mezhrabpomfilm planned an adaptation of La Condition humaine, André Malraux’s novel about a failed Chinese revolution to be directed by Gendelshtein, overseen by Eisenstein, but though all three men signed contracts, the project stalled. Hence Love and Hate was the first of Gendelshtein’s three completed fiction films, followed by The Train Goes to Moscow (1938) and the long-gestating biopic Lermontov—composer Prokofiev jumped ship before its eventual release in 1943. Thereafter, Gendelshtein worked on newsreels and documentaries including First Wings (1950) a study of the early days of aviation—scored by Khachaturian, travelogues following the first female cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova on a trip to Cuba (1963), and Two Days in Nepal (1964). But for our purposes his most interesting later work is Dmitry Shostakovich: Sketches Towards a Portrait of the Composer (1966) a 60th-birthday celebration of the composer whose footage was raided for innumerable later films. Shostakovich had another connection with Gendelshtein, as the director’s second wife was the singer Edit Utyosova, daughter of Leonid Utyosov, Shostakovich’s friend and collaborator on Hypothetically Murdered.
Perhaps because Love and Hate was one of Mezhrabpomfilm’s last productions, it did not attract much critical attention beyond some reviews around its release on 3 March 1935, though it was shown in France in 1937. The cinema press had little to say, and it was largely forgotten until some screenings in the 1970s and the 1990s. It received its UK premiere at the Barbican Cinema in London on 4 October 2006 in a centennial season of Shostakovich’s cinema work. Though it is an extensive and impressive score, Shostakovich wrote little about it beyond describing it as ‘a good film, in my opinion and an interesting one from the composer’s point of view’ (Sovetskoe Iskusstvo, 5 November 1934, p. 5), though he didn’t elaborate on why or how. This does, however, give us a clue as to when he may have been working on it.
Shostakovich wrote the score while occasionally returning to work on Tsekhanovsky’s protracted—and ultimately unfinished—Pushkin animation The Tale of the Priest and His Worker Balda. The cartoon’s music is more consistently satirical than Love and Hate though the scores share that tone of voice at times. But the most notable thing about Shostakovich’s score for Love and Hate is the audible move towards his middle period and particularly the Symphonies Nos. 5 to 12.
The film examines a number of thematic contrasts and these are underlined in the expressionist photography, daring editing and Shostakovich’s score which is cunningly integrated into the general soundscape.
The film’s (uncredited) tonmeister was David Blok, a musical all-rounder; theorist, recording engineer, composer of film scores and library music, and conductor (including Shostakovich’s score for Zoya (1945). The soundtrack blends music and effects and even uses tape manipulation to create sounds that would be impossible to produce with an orchestra.
Politically, the most important of these contrasts is, of course the Red-White split, as for instance, in the implication of an ordered and respectful (Bolshevik) society prior to the Whites’ arrival. On a more sociological level, there is the male-female antagonism in the (Red) women’s village being invaded by the male White Army; the film very much emphasises women’s power, strength and capability, and their importance to the revolution. More ambiguous is the relationship between nature and industry: the many shots of fields and flowers hint at a bucolic pre-War past, though we also see the grim conditions in the mine—the Donbass’s industrial base was crucial to the Revolution’s success.
The credits (Introduction 16 ) are superimposed over a stony texture; a reminder of the story’s gritty mining setting, followed by a socialist-realist statue of a group of women, bearing the date 1919. The hammer-like opening chords and a gong stroke give way to a Musorgskian folkish melody, reminding us of the story’s patriotism. Another gong stroke bookends the sequence.
In torrential rain the town prepares to defend itself against White attackers. An earnest little march punctuated by taps on the woodblock accompanies the Distribution of Arms 17 . But Vasilisa (Emma Tsesarskaya) is troubled and walks away. A brief woodwind pastorale (Interlude 18 ), and a shot of blossom in the rain, leads directly into the next scene—Vasilisa’s neighbour Vera in bed with her husband Mishka. The song How Long Will My Heart Ache and Moan? and Intermezzo 19 20 accompany a montage sequence which takes us from a photo of Vasilisa and her husband through details of the house—her baby, the empty bed, her doing housework and her sadness, to the women of the village saying tender farewells to their men as they leave for the front.
Even by 1935, not all Soviet cinemas were sonorised and so films continued to use occasional title cards, and this scene is punctuated by one reading ‘Every Night I Await My Husband’. This is immediately contrasted with a stirring Soldiers’ March 21 for male choir and, unusually, organ as the men strike up an enthusiastic pace watched by their proud wives—and the single Vasilisa who gazes at the departing men and the spring blossom.
With the men gone, the mine lies idle; the quiet of this scene is contrasted with the following babble of women’s voices and the intertitle, ‘Staying Alone in the Village, the Women …’ A sunflower turns its face to the viewer and we see a field of wheat, but the rural idyll is quickly cut short by gunshots, then we see explosions and the grass and lake raked by machine gun fire. The Whites are nearby but, uncannily, they are an ‘invisible enemy’. Bells ring madly as a woman runs towards the camera.
The Whites gather the women together to watch a troupe of entertainers and hear what is planned for the village. Buba Kastorsky sings a comic song dedicated to Denikin to the stony-faced women. The character would reappear in Neulovimye mstiteli (‘The Elusive Avengers’, 1967) and Novye prikluchenya Neulovimykh (‘The New Adventures of the Elusive Avengers’, 1968) two so-called ‘Easterns’—films that copied elements of Hollywood Westerns but were set in the Eastern bloc.
The pompous and preening Ivan Porfirievich moves himself into Vasilisa’s house. He puts a record on the gramophone—a typically Shostakovichian galumphing March 22 , singing along while showing off in an attempt to seduce her. He is played by Viktor Stanitsyn who later played Winston Churchill in several films, including The Fall of Berlin (1950) (Naxos 8.570238) and The Unforgettable Year 1919 (1951)—both scored by Shostakovich.
With the village men away, the Whites force the women to work in the mine. ‘It’s a Very Difficult Time for Us Women’, as the intertitle says and a female a cappella choir recapitulates How Long Will My Heart … 23 as the women are forced into the back-breaking work under the lecherous soldiers’ gaze. Two further recapitulations follow scenes of the Whites’ comically incompetent administration.
‘By the Eighth Week the Soldier Ivan Porfirievich was Bored of the Gramophone’ reads the intertitle. Stepping up his seduction technique, he plays a waltz on a 78 rpm Record 24 while telling Vasilisa how interesting her life is, and how they both have hard lives. As she rocks her baby’s crib, this crude approach reduces her to tears, which he interprets as capitulation. He excitedly removes a sock and flings it across the room, accidentally hitting the gramophone and stopping the music: in an interesting twist, rather than the traditional serenade, the music has to be stopped before the seduction can go ahead. In the immediate aftermath, the Interlude 25 is a stormy reflection of Vasilisa’s despair at what has happened as she presses her face to the imprisoning wrought-iron bedstead. Morning March, Drunken Soldier and Domestic Mayhem 26 27 28 are variations on the March as the days of the week flash by through intertitles in a grotesque font before we see that the slobbish soldier has loutishly wrecked Vasilisa’s home, while turning her into his domestic and, by implication, sexual, servant. His climactic claim that he wants ‘a good life’ (reminiscent of Alone) tops one of the most satirical scenes to which Shostakovich ever contributed. Grabbing her baby, Vasilisa flees to another room while he gloatingly admires his collection of (presumably looted) pocket watches.
The time for the fight-back comes: ‘This is Our Red Army Commencing the Offensive in the Donbass’ while factory hooters, train whistles and other noises form a sort of industrial symphony in the background. Encouraged by Vera and Vasilisa, the women begin to organise themselves to resist while the White commanders increasingly panic and fall out among themselves.
A Team of Women 29 is a relative of the piano Prelude, Op. 34/14 (1933). The women gather to organise their offensive against the Whites. Creeping through the stormy and rain-lashed night to double basses and low woodwind, their action culminates in a Soldier’s Murder 30 —Vasilisa’s revenge on Ivan Porfirievich. In order to hide, the Women Go Down the Mine 31 to a pizzicato-heavy march that may echo the famous revolutionary song Warshawianka, which Shostakovich used more than once.
But a White officer follows them and shoots two women before his gun jams. Vasilisa attacks him but in the struggle she is shot and the officer is killed, precipitating the women’s retaliation (Death in the Mines 32 —an ironic recapitulation of Distribution of Arms 17 ). ‘Towards Evening We Captured the Rest of the Cossacks and Power Passed to Our Hands’. The women cut off the captured soldiers’ trouser buttons to prevent their escape.
The entire village turns out to honour their three fallen colleagues, who are carried to their funeral on a gun left by the Whites (The Funeral 33 ). This climaxes with four Dramatic Chords 34 , like the opening hammer blows; pillars between which are strung aching spaces, screamed dialogue and horses’ hooves, as the women see a group of approaching soldiers, galloping over the plain. They prepare to counter-attack, staring at an empty sky—the enemy is, again, invisible. Despite this quiet tension, Passing the Time 35 is a surprisingly vigorous piece.
The soldiers gallop into view and one woman lets go a single shot before they realise that the ‘enemy’ is in fact the returning Red Army. They are heralded by a gong crescendo roll after which there is a conventional music cue Greeting the Red Army Men ( 36 —another recapitulation of Distribution of Arms). The men are welcomed back: Vasilisa breaks down but some of the other women seem stunned by the intensity of their experiences. Nevertheless, for all the relief, the women coped on their own and successfully protected the mine for the Bolsheviks. There is little more to say. A brief Fanfare 37 and the men prepare to rejoin the war; a final title-card, ‘This Was Our 1919 in the Village of Mazurka’, reiterates the historical truth of the film—the word ‘Our’ drawing the audience in to the unifying national and continuing struggle. After a gong roll the Finale 38 is a brief recapitulation of Soldiers’ March 21 cut short by a normal gong crash. During this we look up at horses leaping over the camera—perhaps the Ukrainian director Sergei Parajanov knew this shot: in Shadows of Our Forgotten Ancestors (1968) the hero’s death is marked by a point-of-view shot of his body being over-bounded by galloping horses. Parajanov studied under Igor Savchenko who has a small uncredited role in Love and Hate.
As so often around this time, various of Shostakovich’s co-workers suffered in the purges. Tsesarskaya was a star in the 1930s but her career stopped in its tracks in 1937 when her husband was arrested. The author Mikhail Sholokhov, who had admired her in the film version of his Quiet Flows the Don intervened, but her career never reached its earlier heights and she only learned the date of her husband’s death in the 1950s. Vera Maretskaya’s two brothers—journalists—were shot. Mikhail Zharov, who would appear in the last two parts of The Maxim Trilogy (scored by Shostakovich) had his career curtailed in 1952 when his father-in-law was arrested in the so-called Doctors’ Plot—one of Stalin’s paranoid anti-Jewish plans.
Both Love and Hate and The Girlfriends (Naxos 8.572138) just pre-date the official condemnations of Lady Macbeth and The Limpid Stream and both have interesting and innovative scores. But, for whatever reason, he chose not to draw any particular attention to them: he did not extract concert suites and neither was published—indeed much of the manuscript material was lost. The Girlfriends’ opus number 41 was confusingly shared with the score for The Youth of Maxim, while he re-allocated 38 to Love and Hate from the First Jazz Suite, over which he may have wanted to draw an even thicker veil. For the next few years Shostakovich would draw in his cinematic horns with less ambitious scores for films including The Man With a Gun (1938) and the two-part The Great Citizen (1938/39), whose interest is perhaps more cultural than musical.
John Leman Riley
Major reconstruction of the score for Love and Hate
Shostakovich’s 1935 manuscript full score of this work could not be found. The composer was always meticulous about keeping all his manuscript scores in order and in a safe place. This must be a rare case of a score not surviving the siege of Leningrad.
The film contains 23 sections of music. Only eight sections 22 24 29 30 31 33 34 35 were found by DSCH Publishers, Moscow in a rough piano sketch form (with only limited information). These are clearly in the composer’s handwriting, mostly on two staves, and some only on one stave.
23 ‘How Long Will My Heart Ache and Moan?’ was the only piece to be found already in print, and contained only two markings: Moderato and mp.
The remaining 14 sections 16 – 21 25 – 28 32 and 36 – 38 all had to be taken down by ear from the old and rickety 1935 soundtrack. The pitch on this soundtrack is often unstable. The join between 19 and 20 was very tricky to decipher. 20 started with a short gap in the sound (nonetheless clear as to what was intended) and at the same time the pitch became wobbly and unclear. It took quite a while to find a rational and plausible solution.
In 16 only the first two bars are to be found in the sketches. The unison note is clearly intended to span five octaves.
In 21 and 38 organist Stephen Davies made a major contribution to the reconstruction of this extremely complex organ solo.
Only a few bits of the male chorus were decipherable. The DSCH editors finally sorted it out for us (even they had to improvise the last verse), as well as chorus master Dani Juris sorting more out at the recording sessions.
30 and 33 had very limited sketch information, and much was done by ear. (In 34 the sketches have more music between the chords, but were not used for the film.) 38 is a shortened version of 21 .
Special thanks to the DSCH editors in Moscow, in particular Victor Ekimovsky, and Emmanuel Utwiller at the DSCH centre in Paris for their encouragement and support for both the publication and recording of this film score. I am also very grateful for the help of Peter Bromley, Janet Davies, Ray Lee, Stuart O’Byrne and Lemi Reskovac.
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