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Music Text

Ivan Krylov (1769-1844) (R). Jörg Morgener (G)



Abbreviations (PDF)



This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes / Sikorski for the UK, British Commonwealth (excluding Canada), Republic of Ireland, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Turkey, Israel.


World Premiere
Estonia Concert Hall, Tallinn
Moscow Conservatory Students' Chorus & Symphony Orchestra
Repertoire Note

1. The Dragonfly and the Ant
2. The Ass and the Nightingale

Shostakovich was still a child when he composed these charming and somewhat waspish orchestral songs, to words by the 18th century writer Krylov. Krylov was the Russian La Fontaine, writing poetical versions of Aesop’s fables.

Like every Russian child before or since, the young Shostakovich would have known these words by heart. Here he chooses two poems, one contrasting the hardworking ant with the lazy but beautiful dragonfly, the other comparing the braying of a donkey to the music of a nightingale. The composer himself suggested that the second of these two Fables would make an amusing piece for unison female chorus and orchestra. Sung in this way, the song becomes even more of a satirical and humorous item.

Note by Gerard McBurney

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