‘On This Day…’


Stalingrad’s famous Childrens’ Khorovod (or ‘Barmaley’) statue, photographed on 23 August 1942.

No need for me to say much here — seeing as this is another of those postings in which I humbly draw attention to an anniversary connected with the Soviet Union’s ‘Great Patriotic War’ and its preponderant role in ridding the world of the Nazi scourge.

On this occasion, I am pointing out that, a mere 76 years ago, 2 February 1943 was the day of the German surrender that marked the end of the five-month Battle of Stalingrad, in which more than 1 million soldiers died.

Faced with horror of such magnitude, there is really nothing I can legitimately do except direct the interested reader to the relevant episode of 1974’s The World at War

… And perhaps also to two pieces of Russian/Soviet music with a degree of cultural and chronological appropriateness.

First, the Seventh Piano Sonata by Prokofiev. This was first performed in January 1943, just a couple of weeks before the Soviet victory. It is often referred to as ‘the Stalingrad Sonata’,  though as far as I’m aware the connection starts and ends there.

Secondly, there is the Eighth Symphony of Shostakovich, which was completed in the summer of 1943. As a ‘taster’, I can offer the third of its five movements…

… but if anyone feels like trying the whole work, here is a performance from 1982 under the baton of Yevgeny Mravinsky, the dedicatee and the conductor of the first performance in November 1943.


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