Monday, December 12, 2005

next weekend's Shostakovich: "We can hardly wait"

This is from a Talk of the Town piece that appeared in The New Yorker magazine of July 18, 1942, the week that Shostakovich's 'Leningrad' Symphony no. 7 was given its North American premiere by Toscanini and the NBC Symphony. (Mr. Belviso is Thomas Belviso, the orchestra's librarian):
At the time of our call, Mr. Belviso happened to have in his office an extra score of the first violin part. We opened its green covers with due reverence, noting that it was thirty-five pages long and seemed to be CNMPOHNR No. 7. Anyway, it was Op. 60, and the tempo markings of the four movements were in the orthodox Italian: allegretto, moderato poco allegretto, adagio, and allegro non troppo. Mr. H. Leopold Spitalny, the N.B.C.'s Director of Orchestra Personnel, happened in, and we asked him if he could describe the symphony for us, since he had read it. "Well," he said, "it starts with deceptive softness -- a roll of a single snare drum. But it ends, ninety minutes later, with all hell breaking loose." We can hardly wait.

- The New Yorker, June 18, 1942, p. 9; available in The Complete New Yorker
Interestingly, due to the intricacies of rental agreements and copyright law, we seem to be playing on those same green parts, or something very nearly as old. You can visit the New World Symphony website to learn more.

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