Monday, August 25, 2008

Freedom from violins - a concert in South Ossetia

The war in South Ossetia has extended to the musical realm, according to the Guardian:

And they say that symphonic music doesn't mean anything: Valery Gergiev's performance [August 21] of Shostakovich's Seventh Symphony with the orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre in the ruins of Tskhinvali, the capital of South Ossetia, completely disproves the point. The choice of work couldn't have been any more symbolic for Russians: Shostakovich completed his piece, known as the Leningrad, during the siege of the city in the second world war. After its premiere in March 1942, it was performed in Leningrad in the still-besieged city by a makeshift orchestra in August.

Gergiev, who comes from Vladikavkaz in North Ossetia, spoke last night (in Russian and English) of "the horrible destruction of the city". He said that what happened in Tskhinvali was "a huge act of aggression on the part of the Georgian army". He continued: "If it wasn't for the help of the Russian army here, there would be thousands and thousands more victims. I am very grateful as an Ossetian to my country, Great Russia, for this help." But the music would have made that point even more strongly and even more clearly than his words did. The Seventh Symphony is the sound and symbol of liberation for Russians, as it was for all of the Allies in 1942, when Henry Wood and Arturo Toscanini conducted it that year in transatlantic performances.

More here.
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