The siege of Leningrad and the composer who survived the twin tyrants

silverharp

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interesting BBC documentary about my second favourite 20th century composer Shostakovich who dedicated his 7th Symphony to the city of Leningrad, it amazingly premiered during the siege of the city when rations were down to a couple of hundred calories per day. later the music was flown to London and then on to the US to be performed as an act of solidarity with the Russian people.
Lots of interesting strands to the story as Shostakovich almost got caught up in stalin's purges prior to the war, then there is the spirit of the people involved given the privation at the time. it also negatively affected the morale of local german troops as the performance was relayed live over speakers


can view documentary here

https://vimeo.com/188663567


n August 1942, a concert took place in Leningrad that defies belief. A year earlier, the Germans had begun the deadliest siege in history which would kill three quarters of a million civilians. In the midst of the terror, a group of starving musicians assembled to perform Shostakovich's 7th Symphony in what would become a defiant moment in the city's ultimate survival. Historian Amanda Vickery and BBC Radio 3 presenter Tom Service reveal the extraordinary story of triumph of the human spirit over unspeakable terror.

Amanda shows how Leningrad was simultaneously persecuted by Stalin and Hitler, the 'twin monsters' of the 20th century. Meeting with siege survivors and uncovering diaries and photographs, she reveals the reality of life in Leningrad as it literally starved to death.

Meanwhile, Tom explores the thin line walked by Dmitri Shostakovich as the composer came perilously close to becoming a victim of Stalin's paranoia, and reveals how, as Leningrad starved, his 7th Symphony was performed around the world, uniting audiences against a common enemy before finally returning to the city.

Shot entirely on location in St Petersburg, the story is interwoven with excerpts of the symphony performed specially by the St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra conducted by Maxim Shostakovich, the composer's son.
 


Telstar 62

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Thank God for the brave British Arctic Convoys that provided
much needed armaments and ammunition to the Soviets at
that time of siege.....:cool:
 

cozzy121

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Thank God for the brave British Arctic Convoys that provided
much needed armaments and ammunition to the Soviets at
that time of siege.....:cool:
Except this one...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Convoy_PQ_17

Prime Minister Winston Churchill called the event, "one of the most melancholy naval episodes in the whole of the war."[8] An inquiry assigned no blame to anyone, since orders were issued by the First Sea Lord, and blaming the First Sea Lord himself was considered politically unacceptable.[60] The Soviet Union did not believe so many ships could be lost in one convoy and openly accused the Western Allies of lying. Despite the help provided by the material delivered, PQ 17 actually worsened Soviet-Allied relations over the short term, with the Soviets never acknowledging the efforts of Allied merchant seaman or sailors in either navy.[61] Joseph Stalin, and Soviet naval experts, found it difficult to understand the order to scatter given by the Admiralty, given "that the escorting vessels of the PQ 17 should return, whereas the cargo boats should disperse and try to reach the Soviet ports one by one without any protection at all."[62] Admiral King, already known to distrust the British, was furious with what he perceived as Admiral Pound's bungling and promptly withdrew TF 39, sending it to the Pacific. He hesitated to conduct further joint operations under British command.[63] Admiral Dan Gallery, USN, serving in Iceland at that time, called PQ 17 "a shameful page in naval history".[
 

farnaby

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Shostakovich's life seems fertile ground for documentary makers. I like this one - good interviews, bizarre use of puppetry...

[video=youtube;PnCvkLT5g5s]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PnCvkLT5g5s[/video]
 

Catalpast

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Thank God for the brave British Arctic Convoys that provided
much needed armaments and ammunition to the Soviets at
that time of siege.....:cool:
No doubting the bravery and commitment of those on the Artic Convoys & the sacrifices made

- but the aid that reached Russia was just a drop in the Ocean

By August 1942 the worst of the Siege was over

- Winter 1941-42 was Horrific though for the citizens of Leningrad.
 

bormotello

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Thank God for the brave British Arctic Convoys that provided
much needed armaments and ammunition to the Soviets at
that time of siege.....:cool:
Remind me what what happen with British supplies after PQ-17, when it was the most critical time for USSR
 

Man or Mouse

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Unbelievable really under such terrible conditions. Seventh a bit long for the casual observer to listen to, but the second waltz must be very well known. Any fan of Andre Rieu will surely have heard it. Here's a nice little version.

[video=youtube;jOSnOuIVsBE]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jOSnOuIVsBE[/video]
 

silverharp

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Shostakovich's life seems fertile ground for documentary makers. I like this one - good interviews, bizarre use of puppetry...

[video=youtube;PnCvkLT5g5s]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PnCvkLT5g5s[/video]
cheers Ill watch that over the weekend
 

Sheeple_Waker

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Excellent OP. Shostakovich was not a rebel against the regime per se, but at least one writer has suggested that the symphony could be interpreted as a tribute to the people of the USSR and their resilience in the face of their own domestic tyranny as much as their defiance of the invaders. The opening night of the symphony was meticulously planned and the Russians went to great lengths to both camouflage the opera house and engaged in sustained counter artillery duels to silence German artillery.
 

Pizza Man

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Many thanks for the link. I will watch it with interest.

Shostakovitch was a genius. As I moved into my fifties, he overtook Stravinsky and Sibelius as my favourite 20th century composer.

But, much as I like and admire his Leningrad, I far prefer his fifth symphony. The secretly subversive final movement is both overwhelming and moving.

But virtually every piece of music that he wrote is wonderful!
 

Ardillaun

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Unbelievable really under such terrible conditions. Seventh a bit long for the casual observer to listen to, but the second waltz must be very well known. Any fan of Andre Rieu will surely have heard it. Here's a nice little version.
One of the few pieces by DS that I enjoy. For me, his symphonies are interminable dirges.
 

Pizza Man

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One of the few pieces by DS that I enjoy. For me, his symphonies are interminable dirges.
Try the final movement of his fifth. It's worth 11 minutes of your time.
 

silverharp

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This is on in the National Concert Hall tonight
 

Lúidín

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While outwardly we hear great music to the heroic victory of the Soviet people in halting the Nazi advance and driving the invaders back to Berlin, we must also listen for the sub-themes, as often contained in RTE PR material, of praise for Hollywood, Cocoa Cola, Maryln Monroe and the freedom that America brought to the whole world.
 

owedtojoy

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Thank God for the brave British Arctic Convoys that provided
much needed armaments and ammunition to the Soviets at
that time of siege.....:cool:
My sister-in-law had an uncle who served on those convoys.

Every year, the USSR invited him to a dinner in London, a memorial to those who died, and those who survived.

It was a beautiful gesture, and shows there was as bit of gratitude from the Soviets, though mostly they highlighted their own (tremendous) sacrifices.
 

owedtojoy

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While outwardly we hear great music to the heroic victory of the Soviet people in halting the Nazi advance and driving the invaders back to Berlin, we must also listen for the sub-themes, as often contained in RTE PR material, of praise for Hollywood, Cocoa Cola, Maryln Monroe and the freedom that America brought to the whole world.
There is many a true word spoken in jest.

You can laugh at America, but I believe that in the war, the single most decisive factor was America's enormous industrial might. It enabled the Allies to do what many thought was impossible - win a war on two fronts.

There was no theatre of the war where American supplies of food, medicine and equipment did not make a vital contribution. The USSR, for example, did not have to bother manufacturing trucks, jeeps, mobile tankers or radio sets. Its brilliant armoured divisions were supported by American equipment. American wheat relieved the terrible famine in the Soviet Union in 1942.

This kinda sums it up:

[video=youtube;K_DnRn9hyFU]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K_DnRn9hyFU[/video]
 

Malcolm Redfellow

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A whale of a time can be had spotting where Shostakovich plagiarised: Lehár, Ravel, Bruckner, even himself.

Oh, and 'Leningrad' was largely written before the invasion.

Still, the approach of the enemy is as filmic as anyone could wish.

[video=youtube;vRHZu5xoIe0]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vRHZu5xoIe0[/video]​
 


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