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Address on the 80th anniversary of the Leningrad premiere of Dmitry Shostakovich's Symphony No. 7

August 9, 2022

The President addressed the participants and guests of the concert, Leningrad Symphony on the Banks of the Neva, which took place on the Spit of Vasilievsky Island in St Petersburg. The legendary work was performed by the Russian National Youth Symphony Orchestra conducted by Yury Bashmet.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Friends,

I am delighted to welcome participants and guests, every spectator and listener at today's concert. It includes Dmitry Shostakovich's Leningrad Symphony No. 7, one of the pinnacles of world culture, unique in content and expressiveness, a legendary piece of music due to the story behind it and the great influence it has on people’s feelings, hopes and lives.

Exactly 80 years ago – on August 9, 1942 – the most important premiere of this brilliant work took place. By that time, it had already been performed in the Soviet Union and abroad, but none of this could compare with the scale and significance of the performance in besieged Leningrad.

The premiere was scheduled for the day when the Nazis were going to celebrate the capture of the city, but their plans to break the Leningraders were doomed to failure from the start. And, as an anthem to the courage and resilience of Leningrad, this grandiose music was played there. It sang the people’s feat, their fortitude and steely determination, which was the most powerful weapon of the Great Patriotic War.

The live broadcast of the concert shook the world. The musicians had just endured 11 most difficult months of the siege, but they found the strength to give a real big concert, to perform a new symphony.

Its musical themes spoke piercingly about the most difficult trials, about pain and great sorrow. But most importantly, they also carried a truly prophetic affirmation of victory, and this strengthened the faith of the people of Leningrad, all Soviet people, all those who fought against Nazism, in the triumph of humanity and justice.

Today, many decades later, Shostakovich's Leningrad Symphony continues to evoke the strongest feelings in new generations. It makes them share in the bitterness of loss and the joy of victory, love for the Motherland and readiness to defend it.

This is a sign of genuine great art, where works that glorify true and eternal values are recognised as great for all times, unite people of all ages, nationalities and religions; they affirm truth and light, which always prevail over lies and the forces of darkness.

My friends, I wish you success and happiness.

Thank you.

August 9, 2022