The DSCH motif About this soundPlay 

DSCH is a musical motif used by the composer Dmitri Shostakovich to represent himself. It is a musical cryptogram in the manner of the BACH motif, consisting of the notes D, E flat, C, B natural, or in German musical notation D, Es, C, H (pronounced as "De-Es-Ce-Ha"), thus standing for the composer's initials in German transliteration: D. Sch. (Dmitri Schostakowitsch), also pronounced as "De-Es-Ce-Ha."


By ShostakovichEdit

The motif occurs in many of his works, including:

By othersEdit

Before Shostakovich used the motif, it was used by Mozart in measures 16 and 18 of his String Quartet no. 19 in C major, K. 465 in the first violin part.[citation needed]

Many homages to Shostakovich (such as Schnittke's Prelude in memory of Dmitri Shostakovich or Tsintsadze's 9th String Quartet) make extensive use of the motif. The British composer Ronald Stevenson composed a large Passacaglia on it. Also Edison Denisov dedicated some works (1969 DSCH for clarinet, trombone, cello and piano, and his 1970 saxophone sonata) to Shostakovich, by quoting the motif several times and using it as the first 4 notes of a twelve-tone series. Denisov was Shostakovich's protégé for a long time.[citation needed]

Benjamin Britten's Rejoice in the Lamb (1943) contains the DSCH motif repeated several times in the accompaniment, progressively getting louder each time, finally at fortissimo over the chords accompanying "And the watchman strikes me with his staff". The vocal text given to the motif is "silly fellow, silly fellow, is against me". A further reference appears in Britten's The Rape of Lucretia (1946), where the DSCH motif acts as the main structural component of Lucretia's aria "Give him this orchid."

The contemporary Italian composer Lorenzo Ferrero made use of it in DEsCH, a composition for oboe, bassoon, piano and orchestra written in 2006 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Shostakovich's birth, and in Op.111 - Bagatella su Beethoven (2009), which blends themes from the Piano Sonata No. 32 in C minor, Op. 111 by Ludwig van Beethoven with the Shostakovich musical monogram.

The motif was also incorporated by Chumbawamba in "Hammer, Stirrup and Anvil" (2009), their song about Shostakovich's career under Stalin.

Danny Elfman, in his Russian influenced score for the 1995 film Dolores Claiborne, opened the film with the DSCH motif and, subsequently, used it throughout as a nod to Schostakovich's 8th String Quartet (which he cites on his Oct 10, 2006 Apple iTunes playlist as "Simply one of the most beautiful, exquisitely sad, and soulful pieces of music I've ever heard"[citation needed]).

DSCH Journal, the standard journal of Shostakovich studies, takes its name from the motif. "DSCH" is sometimes used as an abbreviation of Shostakovich's name. DSCH Publishers is a Moscow publishing house that published the 150-volume New Collected Works of Dmitri Shostakovich in 2005, 25% of which contained previously unpublished works.


See alsoEdit


External linksEdit