Nagasaki (Schnittke)

Nagasaki is an oratorio composed by Soviet composer Alfred Schnittke in 1958, at the age of 25. It was Schnittke's graduation composition in the Moscow Conservatory, and the topic was suggested by his teacher Evgeny Golubev. The work was considered formalistic, and Schnittke was accused of forgetting the principles of Realism in music. Thus, he suppressed the expressionistic central movement depicting the nuclear explosion and modified the finale.[1] It was recorded by the Moscow Radio Symphony in 1959 and broadcast to Japan through Voice of Russia, but it wasn't printed and it didn't receive any subsequent performances. Nagasaki was finally given its public premiere in its original form in Cape Town on 23 November 2006, eight years after Schnittke's death, by Hanneli Rupert and the Cape Philharmonic conducted by Owain Arwel Hughes.[2]

It consists of five movements, on Soviet and Japanese lyrics:

  1. "Nagasaki, City of Grief" (Anatoly Sofronov)
  2. "The Morning" (Toson Shimazaki)
  3. "On that Fateful Day" (A. Sofronov)
  4. "On the Ashes" (Yoneda Eisaku)
  5. "The Sun of Peace" (A. Sofronov)



  1. ^ Program notes by Calum MacDonald for the work's performance in the 2009 BBC Proms
  2. ^ Profile of the composition in G. Schirmer's website

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