The Tale of the Priest and of His Workman Balda (film)

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The only surviving Bazaar scene

The Tale of the Priest and of His Workman Balda (Сказка о попе и о работнике его Балде) is an extant Soviet animated feature film directed by the husband-and-wife team Mikhail Tsekhanovsky and Vera Tsekhanovskaya and based on the eponymous fairy tale in verse by Alexander Pushkin. The score was composed by Dimitri Shostakovich. The only surviving episode (4 mins) is called Bazaar (Marketplace).[1]

History[edit]

In 1932 the Leningrad animator and experimentator Mikhail Tsekhanovsky launched his most ambitious project to date: an animated opera based on the fairy tale in verse by the Russian classic Alexander Pushkin, yet with a heavy ROSTA posters influence. It was conceived as the first traditionally animated Soviet feature film that used the "album method" of animation, with characters drawn on paper instead of celluloid.[2] The film was created at the Lenfilm animation studio headed by Tsekhanovsky and his wife who also served as the directors, leading artists and screenwriters.

In 1933 they contacted the young composer Dimitri Shostakovich and asked him to write music to accompany the film. They also invited an acclaimed poet Alexander Vvedensky shortly after his return from under arrest to write additional lyrics. Shostakovich loved the opportunity to compose an innovative satirical opera with abstract characters led by his music and not by someone else. He called it "a fairy tale full of ardor, ease and joy, and writing music for it is just as easy and joyful". As Tsekhanovsky wrote during September 1934, "...he works incredibly fast without losing quality. True artist. True craftsman. Now it's up to me. I must create something worth of his music. I must. Balda is the only project where I can show what I'm capable of". They recorded 15 scenes by November.[3]

Yet problems started early into the production. Tsekhanovsky, still inexperienced, was always behind the composer, facing organizational and financial problems. The first attempts to close Balda date back to 1933. In March 1936, studio executives persuaded the composer to reorchestrate his score from a symphony to chamber orchestra. Around the same time the infamous Muddle Instead of Music article was published in press, condemning Shostakovich's opera. Partially because the film now had no score, work on it was stopped and it was never completed.[4][3][5]

Nevertheless, Tsekhanovsky compiled the four finished parts (around 40 minutes) and the rest of material into a full movie. Although the film was nearly finished, it was put into storage at the Lenfilm archives, where almost all of it was lost in a fire caused by the 1941 bombings of Leningrad that hit Lenfilm.[6] Vera Tsekhanovskaya managed to save only the 4-minute Marketplace scene, and it stands alone as a classic of Russian animation.[3][7] Mikhail Tsekhanovsky described the fate of his dream film as "a catastrophe".[8]

Music[edit]

Shostakovich regarded the film's score among his best works ever done. As he wrote, "There are a number of pieces I'm happy with. Especially Balda — from start to finish".[3] After Shostakovich died, his widow arranged to have the score completed by one of Shostakovich's students, Vadim Bibergan. The world premiere recording of the 50-minute work was made by the Russian Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Thomas Sanderling and released in 2006, a century after Shostakovich's birth.[9]

The score was published in 2005, in volume 126 of DSCH Publishers' New Collected Works of Dmitri Shostakovich.[10] This publication contains text in Russian and English.

Surviving and restored parts (DSCH, 2005)[edit]

A number of items were found either in the original composer's handwriting or that of a copier's; eleven others were found only in rough draft form with missing parts or harmonies, and were restored by Vadim Bibergan.

Name Original Copied Draft
1. Overture Yes No
2. Bazaar. Introduction No Yes
3. Noisy Bazaar Yes No
4. First Carousel No No Yes
5. Balda's March No Yes
6. Dance of the Bell-Ringer Yes No
7. Second Carousel No Yes
8. Bear's Dance No Yes
9. Balda's Song No No Yes
10. Balda's Meeting with the Priest No Yes
11. Balda's Dialogue with the Priest No Yes
12. Finale of Part One (March) Yes No
13. The Village No Yes
14. Balda's First Job No No Yes
15. Priest Metropolitan. Tea-Drinking No Yes
16. Overture for a Party No No Yes
17. Lullaby No No Yes
18. Priest's Daughter's Dream No Yes
19. Waltz No No Yes
20. Balda's Second Job No Yes
21. Priest's Dance with the Devil No No Yes
22. Dance of Dead Men No No Yes
23. Procession of Ghouls No Yes
24. Balda's Dialogue with Old Devil Yes Yes
25. Balda's First Dialogue with Imp Yes Yes
26. Devil's Couplets No No Yes
27. Balda's Second Dialogue with Imp Yes Yes
28. Three Fillips No No Yes
29. Balda's Gallop No No Yes

Instrumentation[edit]

Winds[edit]

Note: "1+" means that two instruments are specified, but only one part is written for them both to play.

Part 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29
Piccolo (2) - 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 - 1 1 1 1 1 1 - - - - 1 - 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 2
Flute (2) - 2 2 2 1 - 2 2 - 2 - - 1 2 1 - - - - 1+ 1+ 1+ 2 1 1 1+ 1 2 2
Oboe (2) - 2 2 1 - - 1 2 - 2 2 2 - 2 2 2 1 - 2 - 2 2 2 - 2 2 - 2 2
English horn - - - - - - - - - 1 1 1 - - - - - - - - - - - - 1 - - - -
Clarinet in Eb 1 1 1 1 1 1 - 1 - 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 - - 1 1 1 1 - 1 1 1 1 1 1
Clarinet in Bb (2) 2 1 2 2 2 2 2 2 - 2 2 - 1 2 2 2 2 - 2 1+ 2 1+ 2 1 2 2 1 2 2
Bass clarinet in Bb - - - 1 - - 1 - - - - - - - - - - - - 1 - - - - - - - - -
Soprano sax in Bb (2) - - 1 - - 2 - - - - - - - - - 1 - - - - - 1+ - 1 - 1 - - -
Tenor sax in Bb - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 1 - - - - - - - - - - -
Bassoon (2) 1 1 - - 2 2 1 2 - 2 1 1 2 2 1 2 1 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2
Contrabassoon - 1 - - - - 1 1 - 1 - 1 - - - 1 - 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 - - 1 1
Horn in F (4) - 2 3 - 2 - - 4 - 2 2 - 2 4 2 4 1 - 3 4 4 2+ 2+ 2 2 4 2 2+ 3+
Trumpet in Bb (3) 2 3 3 - 2 2 - 3 - 1 1 1 2 2 2 1 - - - 2 1 3 2 2 2 3 2 2 2
Euphonium - 1 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Trombone (3) 1 2 1+ - 2 1 - 3 - 3 1 1 1 3 2 2+ - 1 1 3 1+ 3 3 1 1+ 3 2 3 3
Tuba 1 1 1 - 1 1 - 1 - 1 1 1 - 1 1 1 - - - 1 1 1 1 - - 1 - 1 1

Strings[edit]

Note: the exact number of violin/viola/cello/contrabass players is not indicated, except in pieces where only one instrument is to play.

Part 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 181 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29
Violins I & II - - - - - - - + - - - - - + - - + + + + + + + - + + - - +
Viola - - - - - - - + - - - - - + - - + + + + + + + - - + - - +
Cello - + - - - - - + - + - - - + - - + + + + + + + - - + - + +
Contrabass 1 + - - - + - + - + - - - + - - + + + + + + + - - + - + +
Harp - - 1 1 - 1 - - - - - - - - - 1 1 - 1 1 - 1 1 1 1 - 1 - -
Russian guitar - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 1 - - - - - - - - - - -
Balalaika - - - - - - - - 1 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

1The violin, viola, cello and contrabass parts are only present for one loud chord at the end of the piece.

Keyboards and tuned percussion[edit]

Part 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29
Timpani 1 1 1 - 1 - - 1 - - - - 1 1 - - - - - - - 1 1 1 1 - 1 - 1
Glockenspiel - - - - - - - - - - - - 1 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Xylophone - 1 1 - 1 - - 1 - 1 1 - 1 1 - - - 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 - 1 - 1
Chimes - - 1 - - 1 - - - - - - 1 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Accordion - - 1 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Other percussion[edit]

Names in italics are in their original Italian.

Part 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29
Triangle - - 1 - - - - 1 - - - - - 1 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Whistle - - 1 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Vetro (Glass) - - 1 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Wood block (2) - 1 1 - - - - - - 1 1 1 1 - - - - 1 1 1 - 2 - 1 1 - 1 - -
Raganella - - 1 - - - - - - - - - 1 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Whip - - 1 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Pistola - - 1 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Tambourine - - 1 - - - - 1 - - - - 1 - - - - - - - - - - - 1 - - - -
Tamburo - - 1 - 1 - - 1 - - - 1 1 1 - - - - 1 1 - 1 - - - - - 1 1
Suspended cymbal - - 1 - 1 - - 1 - - - 1 - - 1 - - - - 1 - - 1 - - - 1 1 -
Crash cymbal - - - - - - - 1 - - - - - - - - - - - - - 1 - - - - - - -
Bass drum (Cassa) - 1 1 - - - - 1 - - - - - - 1 - - - - - - 1 - - - - 1 1 -

Voices[edit]

Note: the exact number of choralists is mostly not indicated; "2+" means that there are at least two harmonic lines somewhere in a part, or at least 2 voices are specifically called for.

Part 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29
Narrator (child's voice (boy)) - - - - - - - - - + - - - - - - - - - - - - - + + - + - -
Balda (bass) - - - - - - - - + - + - - - - - + + - - - - - + + - + - -
Priest (2 voices: tenor and bass) - - - - - - - - + - + - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Priest's Wife (bass) - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - + - - - - - - - - - - - -
Priest's Daughter (soprano) - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - + - - - - - - - - - - - -
Old Demon (2 voices: mezzo-soprano and bass) - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - + - - - - -
Imp (descant) - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - + - + - -
Devil/Chyort (bass-baritone) - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - + - - -
Chorus (sopranos) - - 4+ - - - - - - - + 1+ + + - - - - - - - - - - + - - - -
Chorus (altos) - - 1+ - - - - - - - + - + + - - - - - - - - - - + - - - -
Chorus (tenors) - - 9+ - - - - - - - + 1+ + - - - - - - - - - - - + - - - -
Chorus (basses) - - 5+ - - - - - - - + 2+ + - - - - - - - - - - - 2+ - - - -

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Bazar" – via www.imdb.com.
  2. ^ Vera Kuznetsova, Erast Kuznetsov (1973). Tsekhanovsky. — Leningrad: Khudozhnik RSFSR, 116 pages
  3. ^ a b c d Sofia Hentova (1981). Shostakovich in Petrograd-Leningrad. — Leningrad: Lenizdat, p. 110—115
  4. ^ books.interros.ru Archived September 27, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ John Riley (2005). Dmitri Shostakovich: A Life in Film. — New York: I.B.Tauris, p. 23-25, 47 ISBN 1 85043 709 2
  6. ^ theatre.perm.ru Archived December 1, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ "Российская анимация в буквах и фигурах - Фильмы - ╚СКАЗКА О ПОПЕ И РАБОТНИКЕ ЕГО БАЛДЕ (БАЗАР)╩". animator.ru.
  8. ^ Georgy Borodin. The Story of the Unknown Picture. M. M. Tsekhanovsky's The Tale of a Silly Little Mouse in Documents article from the Notes by Film Historian magazine № 73, 2005 ISSN 0235-8212 (in Russian)
  9. ^ "Shostakovich: The Tale of the Priest & His Worker ... - Deutsche Grammophon: 11631057 - Buy from ArkivMusic". www.arkivmusic.com.
  10. ^ "Dmitri Shostakovich - Story of Silly Baby Mouse & Story of the Priest". www.boosey.com.

External links[edit]