The third CD in the series which features Shostakovich’s symphonies presents Symphony No. 7 “Leningrad”, which is probably the composer’s most well-known symphony. Created during the terrible blockade of Leningrad, it is, in the author’s words, “... a historic battle ... between reason and obscurantism, between culture and barbarism, between light and darkness ...”.
The premiere was on 5 March 1942 at the Palace of Culture in Kuybishev (present-day Samara) with the orchestra of the Bolshoi Theatre, conducted by Samuil Samosud. It was transmitted on all radio stations in the USSR and abroad. For the premiere in Leningrad, the conductor Karl Eliasberg tried to find throughout the whole city musicians who were still alive, but they were only 15! Therefore, musicians from the front had to be called. On the date of the premiere, 9 August, Hitler had planned takeover of the city. He was so sure of the victory of the German army that he even planned a victory feast in Astoria Hotel, which was opposite St. Isaac’s Cathedral. Instead, the symphony of Shostakovich was played at exactly this time. During the concert (80 minutes), the city was enveloped in deep silence and not a single shell was fired. The hall was lit by all its chandeliers, while the artillery eliminated the risk of bombing. The symphony was transmitted by radio and sounded from all speakers in Leningrad. The German soldiers, who believed that the city was already dead, were also listening to it.
Since 22 June 1942, when its first performance outside the USSR took place (in London), the symphony has triumphed under the baton of many famous world conductors such as Wood, Toscanini, Kusevitski, Stokowski, Mitropoulos, Ormandy, Monthieux, etc. This is a recording of the conductor Emil Tabakov and the Bulgarian National Radio Symphony Orchestra, who also perform the other symphonies in this series.