In the summer of 1941, shortly after the German army began the long siege of his city Leningrad, the Soviet Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich began work on his Seventh Symphony.

After composing several movements, Shostakovich and his family, along with the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra, were evacuated. The city of Leningrad then endured a terrible  900-day siege that resulted in starvation and death of half a million civilians.

Upon completion, the Seventh Symphony was performed in Moscow, London, and New York City, but not Leningrad where most remaining musicians had fled or perished.

Heroically, an orchestra was assembled in Leningrad and the symphony’s score was flown in over German lines. Suffering from hunger and exposure (three musicians reportedly died during this time), the makeshift orchestra doggedly rehearsed the symphony.

Shostakovich’s Seventh Symphony was performed in Leningrad on August 9, 1942, a date on which Hitler had predicted the fall of the city.

Read more:

Interview: Brian Moynahan, Author Of ‘Leningrad: Siege And Symphony’ : NPR

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