Dmitri Shostakovich – “Leningradskaia”: The End of the Siege and the Triumph of the Spirit
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There is a ten minute video at the end of this narrative – long, but embellished with lots of pictures.
Shostakovich’s Seventh Symphony was written in 1941, primarily during the Siege of Leningrad by the Nazi forces. When it had its premiere in the war-torn city on 9th August 1942 – performed by the emaciated, surviving musicians of the Leningrad Radio Orchestra that was supplemented with military performers, before a starving but euphoric audience – it was hailed as a universal beacon of resistance to barbarism.
The conductor, Karl Eliasberg, concluded that “in that moment, we triumphed over the soulless Nazi war machine”
It was on that very date that Adolf Hitler launched Operation Barbarossa (the plan for the invasion of the Soviet Union)… Hitler was allegedly so confident of capturing Leningrad and obliterating its population that he already had invitations printed for the victory celebrations to be held in the city’s Hotel Astoria.
According to the German plan for the Eastern Front, the original task of the German strategic formation known as the Army Group North was to conquer Leningrad by mid-September 1941. However, this proved impossible early on. The mobilisation of the civilian population to create defensive lines in the south of the city – mostly women, as the men were either employed in the factories or had to go to the front – and the stalwart resistance of the Red Army prevented the Germans from taking the city by storm.
The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.....Martin Luther King '63
It takes all the technical proficiency our system can provide to make up for the woeful lack of popular support and political savvy of most of the regimes that the West has thus far sought to prop up.........Bernard Fall
January 24, 2023 at 5:46 PM #502359jbnwParticipant
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He gave us the story before we played it – it stayed with me, especially the snare drum solo. The conductor has shown me the score he has of a Shostakovich work, signed by Shostakovich.
It was also smuggled out of Leningrad to New York, and had its US premiere from New York with the NBC Symphony.
When I was at the Hermitage in St. Petersburg (Leningrad) there was an exhibit of the Hermitage cats which kept the rodent population down during the seige.
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