The Latymer School History Magazine - page 45

performance of one of
Shostakovich’s operas, Lady
Macbeth and had disliked it
hugely. In the government’s
magazine, Pravda, there was
an article titled
'Muddle
instead of Music'
, which
called Shostakovich’s music
formalist, coarse, vulgar and
primitive. In response to this,
Shostakovich wrote a fifth
symphony subtitled “
A
Citizen’s Response to Just
Criticism
” a title, which is
both ambiguous and bitterly
ironic. This fifth symphony
contained melodies that
were dramatic and grand,
which pleased the state, as
they interpreted it as
patriotic, restoring him in
their favour. The threat to his
life was over.
By the second year of the
war, the German army had
taken control of most of
Europe as cities fell before
their formidable Blitzkrieg
tactic. On 22nd June 1941
the Germans began
Operation Barbarossa by
crossing the Russian-Ukraine
border and advancing into
Soviet Russia. They swept
through Russia meeting little
resistance. They continued to
the gates of the northern city
of Leningrad, the renamed
city of Shostakovich’s birth.
Due to the previous success
of Operation Barbarossa, the
Germans were confident the
city would “fall like a leaf”
and decided to lay siege to
the city instead of attacking.
So in September 1941 the
siege of Leningrad had
begun.
632,000 people are thought
to have died in the siege of
Leningrad from starvation
and the bitter Russian
winters. The German army at
the gates fared little better
with only summer issue
uniforms, which were not
designed to withstand the
cold. People began eating
cats, dogs and horses.
However as winter set in the
people in the city were
simply not getting enough
food to fight the cold. Before
the siege the city of
Leningrad had a population
of 2.5 million people, by the
end only 1 million were left.
The German army eventually
had orders to enter the city
and end the siege. A date
was set.
Shostakovich’s seventh
symphony was subtitled the
Leningrad Symphony and
was inspired by the plight of
his hometown. The
symphony created an
atmosphere of suspense as
the snare drum played,
conjuring up images of the
German army invading. The
cymbals and three kettle
drums created large
booming noises
representing bombardment.
Inside the city an orchestra
was gathered together of all
the remaining musicians. The
musicians were given extra
rations to help them
rehearse the symphony but
despite these three
musicians died in the course
of the rehearsals. The
musicians were so weak the
conductor had to be
dragged to rehearsals on a
sledge and the rehearsals
had to be finished early. It
became a matter of civic
pride and defiance of Hitler’s
invasion to complete and
perform the piece. They
decided to perform the
piece on the day that Hitler
had decided Leningrad
would be conquered. The
Russians had bombarded the
German guns to stop them
targeting the concert hall.
The performance was played
through loud speakers to the
German troops. Hitler had
failed to overrun the city and
this marked the beginning of
the German retreat from
Russia.
The 20th century was
marked by totalitarian
regimes that oppressed their
people and artists. This
greatly influenced the art
created in that century. Now
in the 21st century, artists are
now able to create their own
art and express themselves
freely, and therefore we now
have greater diversity.
Although Shostakovich loved
his country and her music, he
hated the Soviet State and
their ideals and the way they
crushed their people and
their identity. He displayed
this in his music, which
encouraged the Russians in
their struggle against
totalitarianism. This story is a
representation of not only
how history can shape art
but art and music can inspire
people to change history.
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I...,35,36,37,38,39,40,41,42,43,44 46,47,48,49
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