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Music composed in Leningrad during WWII Siege to be played at Moscow concert January 31

January 15, 2014, 18:14 UTC+3 MOSCOW
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MOSCOW, January 15. /ITAR-TASS/. Little-known music pieces composed in Leningrad during the 900-days siege of the city by Nazi troops from September 1941 through to January 1944 will be performed in a concert titled “Leningraders: the Nine Hundred Days in the Name of Life” in Moscow’s Pillar Hall of the House of the Unions.

It will start off a performing tour around a number of regions of Russia that will be devoted to the lifting of the Siege, one of the milestone events of World War II, a news conference was told Wednesday.

The idea to track down the long-forgotten or unknown music authored by the composers, who worked right in the besieged grand city of Leningrad, was put forward by Klassika Foundation. The effort to tap the unknown music scores took about twelve months.

The selecting experts examined hundreds of pages of handwritten and/or published scores in the archives and libraries of Moscow and St Petersburg.

Only a handful of pieces composed in Leningrad proper during the Siege are known today. A number of scores disappeared during the war and the bulk of the rest were simply buried in oblivion afterwards.

The program of the concert will include fragments from ‘The People of Leningrad’, an opera by Valerian Bogdanov-Berezovsky, ‘An Oath to the People’s Commissar’ set to Dmitry Shostakovich’s music, ‘The Heroic March of Guerilla Fighters’ by Alexander Kamensky, ‘The Songs without Grieving of Tears’ by Boris Asafyev, a lullaby from the opera ‘The Magic Swan Geese’ by Julia Vaisberg, the ‘Stars of the Kremlin’ ceremonial march by Vassily Kalafati, and a number of other work.

The list of performers features the State Symphony Orchestra of Russia, the Alexander Sveshnikov choir, the choir of Moscow’s Sretensky Monastery, conductor Vassily Sinaisky, and other performers.

“We must hear and listen to the music composed in the besieged Leningrad,” Yuri Laptev, the chief artistic director of the project said. “I don’t have anyone in my family who had to live through the Siege, as the ordeal bypassed us but I drew on the evidence of the Siege from my teacher of mathematics, who told me how people survived in spite of all the harsh trials.”

“It’s really difficult to find a better instance where human spirit displayed so much ability to bolster hope and confidence of the future in spite of the most inhumane conditions,” Laptev said.

“Many people know about the Siege of Leningrad only from textbooks these days and this is a fair occasion for us to think over the nature of human existence once again,” believes Alexei Rybnikov, an acclaimed composer of music for movies and theatricals.

“The 20th century was an epoch of terror when millions of people died on the frontlines and/or in concentration camps, when the price of human life was miserable and immense at the same time,” he went on.

“It was also the 20th century that gave birth to personalities of a huge dimension,” Rybnikov said. “The Siege of Leningrad provides an ample testimony to the greatness of human spirit.”

“Just recall that Leningrad theaters ran the productions of Die Csardasfurstin and Eugene Onegin at the peak of the siege because everyone realized there could be no survival without arts,” he said.

“As a performer, I have gotten a most remarkable impression from contacts with that music,” said Yevgeny Volkov, the artistic director of the Alexander Sveshnikov Russian Choir. “Our work is a tribute to the composers who didn’t put gloss over the facts of life but who tried to express grief, courage, and the depth of human suffering.”

According to Nikolai Bukhantsov, a representative of the city government of St Petersburg in Moscow, the program will be performed all across the country. “It’ll be a charity event as all the participants in the concert will perform for free. That’s a present to the survivors of the Siege.

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