Ivan Sollertinsky

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Sollertinsky (right) with close friend Dmitri Shostakovich

Ivan Ivanovich Sollertinsky (3 December 1902, Vitebsk - 11 February 1944, Novosibirsk) was a Russian polymath of the Soviet period. He was an expert in theatre and Romance languages, but is best known for his musical career. He was a professor at the Leningrad Conservatory, as well as artistic director of the Leningrad Philharmonic. In these capacities he was an active promoter of Mahler's music in the Soviet Union. From 1927 he was a close friend of Dmitri Shostakovich.

In the wake of Shostakovich's first denunciation in 1936, Sollertinsky was called, "the troubadour of formalism" by Pravda. [1] Shostakovich dedicated his Second Piano Trio op. 67, which he had begun composing in 1943, to the memory of Sollertinsky, who died in Novosibirsk several months later.

Sollertinsky was reportedly Jewish,[citation needed] and on his trips to western Europe he obtained scores by western European composers, including leading Jewish writers such as Křenek and Weill. He reportedly was given a photostat of Gustav Mahler's Tenth Symphony by the composer's widow Alma, which Shostakovich considered completing. Thus it is not surprising that Shostakovich's first use of overtly klezmer music is in the tragic finale of the Trio Op. 67.


  1. ^ Glikman, p. 220


  • Shostakovich, Dmitri and Glikman, Isaak, Story of a Friendship: The Letters of Dmitry Shostakovich to Isaak Glikman (Cornell University Press, 2001) ISBN 0-8014-3979-5