Seventh Symphony (1943)
Music: Dmitrii Shostakovich
Description: Movement One: Allegretto. Reaction to the Seventh Symphony has been one of extremes. The first performance, in Kubiyshev on 5th March 1942 was broadcast nation-wide. In Leningrad the following month, a much-depleted Radio Orchestra, reinforced by any musician who could be released from combat during the siege, gave an account which personified the heroic aspiration of the music itself. Hundreds of performances followed during the remainder of the war, after which the work fell out of the repertoire, criticized for its excessive length and loose-limbed elaboration of ideas. Since the composer’s death in 1975, it has gradually returned to favor, now with the added possibility of its inspiration stemming as much from Stalin’s atrocities during the 1930s as from Hitler’s subsequent brutalities. Shostakovich’s Leningrad Symphony stands as a testament to heroism and human endurance amid overwhelming conflict and cultural crisis.
I Grew Up in the Leningrad Blockade (1962)
Description: One of Vysotskii’s first war (or anti-war) songs, this one has a large dose of the ‘criminal’ (blatnoi) romanticism characteristic of his songs at the time. A Muscovite himself, Vysotskii conveys the grit and valor of Leningraders determined to live their lives, despite such tragedies as the bombing of the Badaev Warehouses, where the city’s food supply burned in September 1941.