Shostakovich at Trinity


The ‘In Tune’ exhibition’s lecture and concert series reaches its climax in March, with two events focusing on twentieth-century music. On 20 March Dr Mark Fitzgerald will deliver a lecture on twentieth-century Irish composers represented in the Library’s archive collections, and a week earlier, on Thursday 13 March in the Examination Hall, the Callino Quartet will perform four works: three by Irish composers included in the exhibition – Gerald Barry, Ina Boyle and Brian Boydell – and one by a distinguished honorary graduate of the College, Dmitri Shostakovich.


Shostakovich was one of several musicians of international standing who received honorary doctorates in music during Brian Boydell’s time as Professor (1962-82). To mark the bicentenary of the Chair of Music in 1964 Michael Tippett, Aloys Fleischmann and Joseph Groocock were honoured; later recipients were Shostakovich (1972), Charles Rosen (1976) and Mstislav Rostropovich (1977).

????????????????????????????????????????????????In July 1972 Shostakovich and his wife Irina began their journey to Dublin by boat from Leningrad: ‘at least for four days nobody will be able to ring me up, and nobody will ask me anything about anything. That’s already a bonus.’ On arrival in London they flew directly to Dublin, where Shostakovich received his MusD. The Latin oration stated that ‘in his rhythms and harmonies he has not rejected traditional modes out of hand, but has skilfully modified and adapted them to express the moods and character of modern times and a new society’.

The following day the Provost accompanied the Russian visitors to Áras an Uachtaráin where they were received by President Eamon De Valera, and they were also entertained by Professor Brian Boydell and his family at their home in Howth. On his return to England Shostakovich was received by the music-loving Prime Minister Edward Heath, but for him the highlight of his trip was a visit to Aldeburgh, where he spent three days as a guest of fellow-composer Benjamin Britten.

Photographs from Shostakovich’s sojourn in Dublin are included in the manuscript collection of Brian Boydell, TCD MS 11128.

In Tune, sponsored by KBC Bank, runs until 1 April 2014.The exhibition is also available online. Full details of the accompanying lecture and concert series are available here.

Roy Stanely

Music Librarian