Shostakovich’s ‘Leningrad' Symphony: Music of Endurance

David Fanning, Michelle Assay

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Shostakovich’s ‘Leningrad’ Symphony is the single most enduring musical monument to resistance to Nazi invasion. The story of its composition and early reception has been extensively told, and some tenacious myths have sprung up in the process, telling us much about the climate of opinion in various countries and at various times, even as they obscure vital qualities that ensure the symphony’s survival in the concert hall. Recent research has clarified the picture somewhat, and our study fleshes out the picture of the work’s afterlife in film, ballet and popular music. However, there remains a conspicuous gap in terms of direct engagement with the symphony’s craftsmanship, without which no amount of vivid backstory-telling would have kept it in the repertoire. Several conspicuous sources of Shostakovich’s musical imagery have been completely overlooked. The status of these sources, and their role within the evolving musical construction of the ‘Leningrad’ Symphony from movement to movement, are central considerations in the present study, which proposes a fundamentally new way of understanding its artistic qualities.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook to Music under German Occupation, 1938-1945
Subtitle of host publicationPropaganda, Myth and Reality
EditorsDavid Fanning, Erik Levi
Place of PublicationAbingdon & New York
PublisherRoutledge, Taylor & Francis Group
Number of pages30
ISBN (Electronic)9781315230610
ISBN (Print)9781138713888
Publication statusPublished - 18 Dec 2019

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    Fanning, D., & Assay, M. (2019). Shostakovich’s ‘Leningrad' Symphony: Music of Endurance. In D. Fanning, & E. Levi (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook to Music under German Occupation, 1938-1945: Propaganda, Myth and Reality (1 ed., pp. 418-447). Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.