70th Anniversary of Lifting the Siege of Leningrad. The Seventh Symphony
The Leningrad Premiere of the Symphony took place on August 9, 1942. This was the date that Hitler had chosen to celebrate the fall of Leningrad in Astoria hotel. Much preparation work was needed for the concert to be conducted. The Leningrad Radio Orchestra under Karl Eliasberg was the only remaining symphonic ensemble. But half-starved musicians hadn’t been performing for a long time. Before they tackled Shostakovich's work, Eliasberg had the players go through pieces from the standard repertoire-Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov-which they also performed for broadcast. Because the city was still blockaded at the time, the score was flown by night in early July for rehearsal. On the concert day loudspeakers broadcast the performance throughout the city as well as to the German forces in a move of psychological warfare. The Soviet commander of the Leningrad front, General Govorov, ordered a bombardment of German artillery positions in advance to ensure their silence during the performance of the symphony; a special operation, code-named "Squall," was executed for precisely this purpose.
The symphony became the symbol of resistance to Nazi totalitarianism and militarism.