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A4 Shostakovich’s Leningrad

Programme:

Dmitri Shostakovich
Symphony No. 7 in C major, Op. 60 (Leningrad)

Cast:
Lionel Bringuier – conductor

It was on August 9, 1942, when through the besieged Leningrad chimed Shostakovich’s Seventh Symphony. The orchestra’s rehearsal log records noted: The rehearsal did not take place. Srabian is dead. Petrov is sick. Borishev is dead. Orchestra is not working.

To fill the orchestra’s spots, musicians had to leave the battle lines. If anyone played badly or came late, the conductor would cut their bread rations. One day before the concert, the Soviet army bombarded the German army lines to destroy as many weapons as possible to ensure no interruptions during the broadcast.

The symphony was often played in the Soviet Union even during the Cold War, while the West, after its initial excitement, condemned it as a sign of Stalinism. “I have nothing against the Seventh Symphony being called Leningrad. But it is not about the blockade. It is about Leningrad that was destroyed by Stalin. And Hitler finished it off,” says the author, continuing: “Even before the war, all Leningrad families lost someone… The grief was unbearable. I had to transfer it into music. It was both debt and obligation to do so. I had to write a requiem for those who passed away and were tortured. By depicting the terrifying and destructive machinery I protested against it.”