Symphony No. 3 (Shostakovich)

The Symphony No. 3 in E-flat major (subtitled First of May), Op. 20 by Dmitri Shostakovich was first performed by the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra and Academy Capella Choir under Aleksandr Gauk on 21 January 1930 (the anniversary of Lenin's death).

Similar to the Second Symphony, it is a single movement choral symphony which lasts around 25 to 30 minutes. The finale sets a text by Semyon Isaakovich Kirsanov praising May Day and the October Revolution. In a letter to Boleslav Yavorsky, Shostakovich said that the work "expresses the spirit of peaceful reconstruction.”[citation needed]


On the very first May Day ("the first first of May", in Russian)
a torch was thrown into the past,
a spark, growing into a fire,
and a flame enveloped the forest.

With the drooping fir trees' ears
the forest listened
to the voices and noises
of the new May Day parade.

Our May Day.
In the whistling of grief's bullets
grasping bayonet and gun,
the tsar's palace was taken.

The fallen tsar's palace:
this was the dawn of May,
marching ahead,
in the light of grief's banners.

Our May Day:
in the future there will be sails,
unfurled over the sea of corn,
and the resounding steps of the corps.

New corps, the new ranks of May
their eyes like fires looking to the future.
factories and workers
march in the May Day parade.

We will reap the land,
our time has come.
Listen, workers, to the voice of our factories:
in burning down the old, you must kindle a new reality.

Banners rising like the sun,
march, let your steps resound.
Every May Day
is a step towards Socialism.

May Day is the march
of armed miners.
Into the squares, revolution,
march with a million feet![1]


The symphony is scored for mixed chorus and an orchestra of 3 flutes (3rd doubling piccolo), 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, triangle, snare drum, cymbals, bass drum, tam-tam, glockenspiel, xylophone, and strings.

Notable recordingsEdit

Notable recordings of this symphony include:

Chorus Orchestra Conductor Record Company Year of Recording Format
RSFSR Russian Chorus Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra Kirill Kondrashin Melodiya 1965–1975 (for complete symphonies) CD
London Philharmonic Choir London Philharmonic Orchestra Bernard Haitink Decca Records 1981 CD
Bach Choir Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Vladimir Ashkenazy Decca Records 1992 CD
London Voices London Symphony Orchestra Mstislav Rostropovich Teldec 1993 CD
Bavarian Radio Chorus Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra Mariss Jansons EMI Classics 2005 CD
Prague Philharmonic Chorus Prague Symphony Orchestra Maxim Shostakovich Supraphon 2006 CD
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Choir Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra Vasily Petrenko Naxos Records 2010 CD

Source: (recommended recordings selected based on critics reviews)


  1. ^ Kirsanov, Semyon (2009). "The First of May (translator unknown)". Marxist Library. Retrieved November 20, 2017.