On 5 March 1942, Dmitry Shostakovich's world-renowned Seventh Symphony premiered in Kuibyshev (present day Samara, Russia) during the 900-day siege of Leningrad (now St. Petersburg). Performed by the Bolshoi Theater Orchestra and conducted by Samuil Samosud, it was broadcast on the radio across the Soviet Union.
Shostakovich began composing the Seventh Symphony in 1941 when Leningrad was besieged by the Germans, but the work was premiered in Kuybyshev, a remote city to which a lot of musicians had been evacuated. Shostakovich dedicated the symphony to the city of Leningrad and the fight against fascism, although he later admitted that he thought of the symphony even prior to the beginning of the war. “I thought of other enemies of mankind while composing this theme,” he wrote. “I deplore fascism, and not only German fascism, but all kinds. I feel immeasurable grief for all who were killed by Hitler. But I also feel grief for those who died by the order of Stalin…”
Performances followed throughout the year in Moscow, London and New York, and a premier in Leningrad itself, conducted by Karl Eliasberg, took place on 9 August 1942. The performance was heard through loudspeakers throughout the city and beyond, reaching the German forces stationed outside the city. The siege was to last another eighteen months but the performance was a psychological boost and a massive show of defiance.