An exceptional opportunity to hear the score as the composer himself intended - Shostakovich’s hitherto lost original piano score to the newly restored and expanded avant-garde Soviet masterpiece about the revolutionary 1871 Paris Commune.
Shostakovich’s spectacular first film score, New Babylon, was written when he was just 23 years old and is, alongside The Nose, his most important early dramatic work. Numerous re-writes of the film were demanded even before shooting started and the directors’ final cut completed in December 1928, when the composer was contracted to join the production. His myriad musical quotations matched a fast cross-cut film to produce a work of astonishing complexity and precision unequalled in silent film composition.
However, after two industry preview screenings with the composer himself performing his original solo piano score, the Moscow Sovkino office ordered the removal of over 20% of the film. Re-editing Shostakovich’s score to match proved impossible, parts were incomplete and early performances, a series of debacles, were beyond the abilities of cinema orchestras. Remaining copies of the piano score, destined for smaller cinemas and now unfitted for the re-edited film, were sold off. A rare surviving copy has provided the material for this first public performance. USSR 1929 Dir Grigorii Kozintsev, Leonid Trauberg 95 min
We're delighted to be joined by John Leman Riley, author of Shostakovich: A Life in Film to introduce the screening.
An original REALITY production, produced and restored by Marek Pytel with Jane Elliott
This screening is part of a series complementing the exhibition Revolution: Russian Art 1917–1932 at the Royal Academy of Arts