In 1944, in response to a journalist’s question, Shostakovich said that he was looking for a suitable text for his Symphony No. 9, a large-scale work for chorus and orchestra. The information took on a life of its own, and the rumour started to spread that the composer was going to dedicate this work to the ‘great victory of the Soviet Union’. Although Shostakovich did attempt to write the choral work of the type, his sketches were abandoned in favour of a completely new work, the première of which became one of the biggest scandals in the Soviet music scene. Instead of the glorious music that everyone had been waiting for with much pathos, the audience was treated to a grotesque, almost parody tune, a light-hearted piece of music in which nothing could be taken seriously. Although the performance caused a great scandal in its day, in today’s terms it is one of Shostakovich’s most important symphonies – and one of the most popular pieces in concert halls. With great taste and restraint, the work holds up a twisted mirror to the world, whereby the composer reaches back to the classical tradition, recalling the emblematic gesture: if we cannot laugh at the world, we should at least show it the fig.
In the first half of the concert, Gábor Hollerung will offer an analysis of the piece in Hungarian. After the interval, the complete work will be performed without interruption.