London Philharmonic Orchestra / Kurt Masur
- Sunday, 6 September 2009
- Philharmonie, Main Hall
Shostakovich achieved what American celebrities would give almost anything for: he appeared on the cover of the New York Times – in 1942, in the middle of the War; wearing a fireman’s helmet, hose in hand, on the roof of the Leningrad Conservatory, surrounded by – and under fire from – German troops. Message: the composer fights for his city, and for its music. Amidst the din of war and suffering he composed, it was said, a great symphony – his seventh. It was performed in occupied Leningrad; and became a sensation in England and America. Toscanini conducted it. Within a few months it went around the world, and, wherever it was performed, it mesmerized its audience and elicited ovations. A monumental work with the dimensions of musical drama. Shostakovich presents the triviality and brutality of power with an unmasking rigour, confronting it with passages that speak of the vastness of hope.
»It’s a symphony to kill Hitler«, commented the American, Nicolas Slonimsky, from St. Petersburg. A »symphony in tyranny«, Shostakovich added. For war reigns not only when weapons roar; and the oppression of a people comes not only from without. If one wanted to tell the history of the 20th century through compositions, Shostakovich’s symphonies would have to be included – the seventh to the fore.
Dmitri Shostakovich [1906–1975]
Symphony No. 7 in C major op. 60 Leningrad 
Memories Moderato (poco Allegretto)
Our Country’s Wide Spaces Adagio
Victory Allegro non troppo