The archive consisting of one signed photo by Shostakovich, 6 letters (with the envelopes in maestro’s handwriting), 1 congratulatory telegram with the photo pasted on it and one family photo.
All of the letters are addressed to Kazan to Isaia Sherman. Isai Sherman (1908-1972) the Ukrainian born conductor, who has been working in Kazan and Leningrad during his career. He has been involved in two productions of Shostakovich over the years, including ‘Sorochinskaya fair’ in 1931 and ‘Katerina Izmailova’ in 1965. The letters are concerning the latter production.
Since the 1930s it was banned for theaters to perform Shostakovich’s work, but in 1960s the unofficial ban was lifted and in 1962 the operas started to appear, first in Moscow. The earliest of the letters are from May, 1963, to Sherman who was staying at Petrozavodsk at the time, in which Shostakovich simply expresses the gratitude to Sherman for the congratulations.
Four letters are dated 1964-68 sent to Kazan, where Sherman became the head of the local Tatar Theater of Opera and Ballet in 1960. Later in 1965 the premier of ‘Katerina’ has happened in Tatarstan. The letters are concerning the preparation of the opera, and the details of Shostakovich’s planned visit to Kazan to participate in the rehearsals (‘I will be glad to see you and listen to your art’, dated 9/1/1965). In the next letter written after the premiere in March Shostakovich mentions that Kazan production was ‘very good, most importantly good in the musical sense’.
In the next letter dated May, 1965 Shostakovich settles the dates of the meeting of the director adding ‘the warmest gratitude’ for ‘Katerina’ and gives his home address and phone number. In the next letter sent also to Kazan Shostakovich mentions the fact that he’s glad that the performance of the opera will happen on his birthday. Next letter is sent to Moscow in 1968 to Sherman, in which Shostakovich congratulates him with the new year.
1) Signed photo of young composer, dated 1940 and addressed to Evgeniy Wolf-Israel, with the admiration for his ‘art’
2) Photo of Shostakovich’s family.
3) Photo of maestro bowing to the audience in 1960s, pasted on the congratulatory telegram, addressed to opera singer Kseniya Komissarova.