Archive of Shostakovich Papers Looks for a Home

Classic Arts News   Archive of Shostakovich Papers Looks for a Home
A collection of Shostakovich memorabilia would find many eager takers in the West, but in Estonia a collection of the composer's letters, symphony scores and film soundtracks languishes unwanted in a small apartment.

The Chicago Tribune reports that the bookshelves and cabinets of Natalia and Mark Matsov's flat in Tallinn are filled with original Shostakovich documents and scores.

Natalia and Mark are the children of Roman Matsov, a conductor and Shostakovich's close friend. Natalia told the Tribune that the composer's archive has been sitting unstudied and uncatalogued in dusty boxes and folders for decades.

The West celebrated the centennial of Shostakovich's birth last year with fanfare, but, according to the Tribune, the occasion went almost unnoticed in Russia. One of the only tributes was a concert in Moscow conducted by Mstislav Rostropovich in September.

Mark Matsov told the paper that he and his sister have long struggled to find a reliable home for the composer's scores and recordings. Moving Shostakovich's archive into a museum where it could be studied by music scholars would put to rest many myths that still sully his legacy [in Russia], Mark Matsov said, but he has encountered little interest from museums so far.

The Shostakovich museum that Rostropovich established at the composer's St. Petersburg apartment has discussed taking the material, but Matsov believes housing it in Russia would be a mistake. "It would be stupid to bring this archive from a democratic and free Estonia to a place like Russia, where the materials would be locked away for good," he told the Tribune.

Matsov told the paper that the relationship between his father and Shostakovich blossomed after the composer awarded the elder Matsov second prize in a 1946 music contest. The pair worked together until Shostakovich's death in 1975.

The Matsov siblings (whose parents died a few years ago) have retained the apartment just to house the archive, although neither live in Tallinn. "The landlord can take away this apartment at any time, with just two months' warning," Mark told the Tribune. "Then that would be it. The archive would die."

Recommended Reading: