Vissarion Iakovlevich Shebalin

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Shebalin, Vissarion Iakovlevich


Born May 29 (June 11), 1902, in Omsk; died May 28, 1963, in Moscow. Soviet composer, pedagogue, and public figure. People’s Artist of the RSFSR (1947); doctor of the arts (1941).

In 1928, Shebalin graduated from the Moscow Conservatory, where he had studied composition under N. Ia. Miaskovskii. Shebalin’s music, which is pictorial in nature, communicates an ideological message and affirms a lofty and positive ideal; it develops the traditions of the Russian classics and is characterized by its noble use of melody, which often recalls the lyric and epic songs of Russian folklore.

Shebalin composed the operas The Taming of the Shrew (based on the play by Shakespeare; 1957, Bolshoi Theater) and Sun Over the Steppes (concert performance, Moscow, 1959), the musical comedy Bridegroom From the Embassy (1942), and the cantata Moscow (1946; words by B. V. Lipatov; State Prize of the USSR, 1947). An important composition is the dramatic symphony Lenin (1931; revised version, 1959), scored for narrator, soloists, chorus and orchestra; the work is based on V. V. Mayakovsky’s narrative poem Vladimir Il’ich Lenin.

Shebalin is also known for his five symphonies, violin concerto (1940), and chamber music, including nine string quartets, of which the most famous is the String Quartet No. 5, on Slavic Themes (1942; State Prize of the USSR, 1943). His other works include art songs, choruses, music for motion pictures and plays, and arrangements of Russian folk songs. An important part of Shebalin’s oeuvre are his completed versions of Russian and Ukrainian musical classics, such as the operas Sorochintsy Fair by Mussorgsky and The Zaporozhian Cossack Beyond the Danube by Gulak-Artemovskii and Glinka’s Symphony on Two Russian Themes.

Shebalin became a professor at the Moscow Conservatory in 1935 and served as its director from 1942 to 1948. In addition to the Czech composer V. Kučera, his students included L. M. Auster, E. V. Denisov, K. Kh. Kuzham’iarov, A. A. Nikolaev, A. N. Pakhmutova, V. R. Tormis, T. N. Khrennikov, and K. S. Khachaturian. Shebalin was chairman of the administrative board of the Moscow organization of the Composers’ Union of the USSR in 1941 and 1942 and served as a deputy to the second convocation of the Supreme Soviet of the RSFSR. Shebalin was awarded the Order of Lenin, the Order of the Red Banner of Labor, and various medals.


Literaturnoe nasledie: Vospominaniia, perepiska, stat’i, vystupleniia. Moscow, 1975.


Vissarion Iakovlevich Shebalin: Stat’i, vospominaniia, materialy. Moscow, 1970.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.