Bonjour Mes Petits Amis! What do Beethoven, Mahler and Dvorak Have in common? They all died not too long after writing their Ninth Symphonies!
Franz Schubert also didn’t live too much longer after his Ninth Symphony, but considering Schubert died at age 31 he didn’t live too much longer after anything!
Anton Bruckner died before his Ninth Symphony was completed and it was finished by others.
And what about these two ‘gentlemen’? Joseph Stalin and Andrei Zhdanov (Here seen at the funeral of Sergei Kirov who was probably murdered by Stalin!). While neither of them wrote Ninth Symphonies their policies affected the Ninth Symphony of this man. Dmitri Shostakovich.
Once the war was over and the Soviet Union emerged victorious, Stalin wanted Shostakovich, who had written eight symphonies, to write a monumental ninth! The parameters were clear…the work should be over an hour long, have a huge orchestra and chorus and proclaim the greatness of the Rodina. Unfortunately, Shostakovich being Shostakovich, like Manny being Manny, was having none of it. He gave them a work that was light, short and frankly dare I say it…fun! Russia had endured so much loss, the last thing people needed was the work Stalin wanted. Shostakovich had the foresight to write the perfect post war symphony.
A while ago I was doing podcasts for the BSO and was delighted when this personal favorite came my way. It’s a pleasure to share it with you now.