Göteborgs Konserthus The Leningrad Symphony

Event has already taken place. A gripping musical experience with the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra and conductor Santtu-Matias Rouvali.

Concert length: 1 h 30 min no intermission Scene: Stora salen
370-530 SEK Student 185-265 SEK

Event has already taken place

Shostakovich’s relentless snare drum echoes with a strangely eerie effect in the Concert Hall’s vibrating acoustics. Audiences have experienced this sensation eight times since the Gothenburg premiere of Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 7, the ”Leningrad Symphony”, with Carl von Garaguly in 1943, as the Second World War raged on. There isn’t an audience in the world that leaves a performance of this dramatic music unmoved. On this occasion, the Gothenburg Symphony’s Chief Conductor Santtu-Matias Rouvali takes to the podium to present Shostakovich’s gripping commentary on the cruel Nazi siege of Leningrad 1941-1944.

Shostakovich’s music was written in what was then Russia and the Soviet Union, marked by anything but freedom of opinion, and contemporary research indicates that he was, after all, critical of his own contemporary oppression and that he used his artistry as an expression of this even if the authorities then chose a different interpretation. Experiencing this music now, with that knowledge, can add additional dimensions to the experience, in addition to the purely musical.


Get to know the classical piece


Introduction to the concert

Take a seat in the Great Hall one hour before the concert begins and learn more about the music you will soon experience! You will get the stories behind the music, knowledge of the composers and own reflections about the classical pieces. The introduction last for about 30 minutes, it is free and free seating in the hall. Warm welcome!


Dmitri Shostakovich (1906–1975) Symphony No  7, "Leningrad"  Shostakovich lived mostly in Leningrad, and he remained there during much of the city's multi-year siege during World War II. It was there and then that he composed his Seventh Symphony. Shostakovich thought orchestrally and wrote down the music without sketches directly in the score. He did not leave his study even during the air raids. Shostakovich himself described how he felt when he composed the music: "The music gushed out of me, I couldn't hold it back." A bit into the first movement, the horrors of war break irreconcilably into peaceful life. A ragged march is usually called the "invasion theme" and depicts the increasingly powerful attacks of the Nazis. But in his disputed memoirs, the composer has explained that it is about the attacks from within, about Stalin's increasingly vile persecutions, about the destruction of Leningrad by his own bureaucrats. The musical progression that the "invasion theme" builds up goes from ppp to fff. Only towards the end of the last three variations does an almost inaudible theme set in. Shostakovich wrote: “The second movement is a lyrical intermezzo...There is a bit of humor in there (I can't do without it!). Shakespeare understood the value of humor in a tragedy – you can't keep the audience in suspense all the time.” Shostakovich was not usually this verbose about his works, and yet the quote comes from a statement made before the symphony was completed. The final was a "victory, a wonderful life in the future". The music creeps out of the fog, but does not lack tumultuous episodes and a triumphant crescendo that "sounds from every corner of the earth". But the real victory over the Germans was still far away, the city was still occupied. Towards the end of 1941 Shostakovich was evacuated to Kuybyshev (now Samara) where the symphony was completed. The music was also premiered there in March by the similarly evacuated orchestra from the Bolshoi Theater and its conductor Samuil Samosud. The microfilmed score was flown to the United States by military aircraft via Iran, North Africa, South America, and on July 19, 1942, Arturo Toscanini conducted the NBC Symphony Orchestra in a radio broadcast. In the 1942–43 season, the symphony was performed 62 times in the United States, by the greatest conductors. On August 9, 1942, the people of Leningrad could finally hear their symphony performed by emaciated musicians at home in the occupied city. STIG JACOBSSON

Wednesday 8 March 2023: The event ends at approx. 21.00
Thursday 9 March 2023: The event ends at approx. 21.00


The Gothenburg Symphony, called "one of the world's most formidable orchestras" by the Guardian, has toured the USA, Europe, Japan and the Far East and performed at major music centres and festivals throughout the world. Chief conductor is Santtu-Matias Rouvali who started his tenure in 2017. Barbara Hannigan and Christoph Eschenbach are principal guest conductors since 2019. Already at the orchestra's very first years, the great Swedish composer Wilhelm Stenhammar was appointed principal conductor, contributing strongly to the Nordic profile of the orchestra by inviting his colleagues Carl Nielsen and Jean Sibelius to conduct their own works. Subsequent holders of the post include Sergiu Comissiona, Sixten Ehrling and Charles Dutoit. During Neeme Järvi's tenure (1982-2004), the orchestra became a major international force. In 1997 it was appointed the National Orchestra of Sweden. During his celebrated tenure as music director (2007-2012), Gustavo Dudamel took the Orchestra to major music centres and festivals in Europe, making acclaimed appearances at BBC Proms and Vienna Musikverein. The list of prominent guest conductors has included Wilhelm Furtwängler, Pierre Monteux, Herbert von Karajan, Myung-Whun Chung, Herbert Blomstedt and Sir Simon Rattle. The orchestra also runs extensive concert projects for children, and regularly releases digital live concerts free on gsoplay.se. The orchestra has been involved in many prestigious recording projects, the latest one the complete Sibelius Symphonies with Santtu-Matias Rouvali for Alpha Classics. Earlier, the orchestra has issued over 100 recordings on BIS, Deutsche Grammophon, Chandos, Farao Classics and several other labels. The Gothenburg Symphony is owned by the Region Västra Götaland.

Since 2017, Santtu-Matias Rouvali has been chief conductor of the Gothenburg Symphony. He also has a successful international conducting career and has been hailed by The Guardian as "the latest great talent in the Finnish conducting tradition that you just have to listen to". Santtu-Matias Rouvali is also chief conductor of the Tampere City Orchestra and the Philharmonia Orchestra in London. He has toured with the Gothenburg Symphony and pianist Hélène Grimaud in Nordic capitals as well as with pianist Alice Sara Ott and percussionist Martin Grubinger in Germany. Throughout the season 2022-2023, Santtu-Matias Rouvali continues his relationships with top level orchestras across Europe, including Berliner Philharmoniker, Wiener Symphoniker, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and Münichner Philharmoniker, as well as returning to the New York Philharmonic for his annual visits. He works with soloists including Víkingur Ólafsson, Nemanja Radulovic, Yuja Wang, Nicola Benedetti, Behzod Abduraimov, Patricia Kopatchinskaja, Alice Sara Ott, Sheku Kanneh-Mason, Vadim Gluzman, Randall Goosby, and Vilde Frang.

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