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Rebellion & Resistance - the story of the Leningrad Symphony

9 August marks the 70th anniversary of the extraordinary first performance in Leningrad (St Petersburg) of Shostakovich’s Symphony No 7, Leningrad. Its story is a remarkable one of resilience and determination in the face of extreme adversity, almost a year into the 900-day siege by the Nazis.

The Leningrad performance took place some five months after the Russian premiere and also followed performances in the UK (at the Proms) and US. Wikipedia has the story of the 15 remaining members of the Leningrad Radio Orchestra (“the others had either starved to death or left to fight the enemy”) supplemented by recruits via a poster campaign with the offer of additional rations, of the broadcast via public loudspeakers and the bombardment of the Nazi encampment immediately beforehand.

We look forward to welcoming the ‘descendants’ of the Leningrad Radio Orchestra – St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra – to Symphony Hall to open the Birmingham International Concert Season 2012/13 on 2 October on the first night of their 17-date UK tour. Concert information

Many thanks to the Orchestra for raiding their archives and coming up with this fascinating photo gallery.

This concert is one of a pair exploring two of the most iconic works in Russian 20th-century culture and their use for political and propaganda purposes. Rebellion and Resistance opens with Sergei Eisenstein’s iconic silent film Battleship Potemkin to a new film score by Michael Nyman (UK premiere) which he talks about here.

Photos courtesy of St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra