Chicago Symphony’s season-opener: Shostakovich’s “Babi Yar” symphony

Posted on: September 21, 2018

“Between Sept. 29 and 30, 1941, German forces machine-gunned 33,771 Jews at Babi Yar, a ravine northwest of Kiev, in Ukraine,” writes Howard Reich in Wednesday’s (9/19) Chicago Tribune. “Nowhere were the horrors of that place more fiercely remembered than in Yevgeny Yevtushenko’s poem ‘Babi Yar,’ and in the shattering orchestral work it inspired, Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 13…. Chicago Symphony Orchestra music director Riccardo Muti opens the subscription season on Friday evening with a rare performance of Shostakovich’s ‘Babi Yar’ Symphony…. In 1961, the Russian poet visited Babi Yar … and was told what happened there, a story Yevtushenko had not heard until that day…. Yevtushenko published ‘Babi Yar’ … later that year … breaking the silence [in the Soviet Union] …. Soviet authorities placed various impediments before the first performance [of Shostakovich’s ‘Babi Yar’ in 1962]…. Muti … became one of the first to bring the work to the West, on Jan. 31, 1970 … in Rome.… Muti … notes that Shostakovich’s widow [Irina Shostakovich] will come to Chicago for these performances at the conductor’s invitation.” Says Muti, “This is one of the greatest works of Shostakovich…. And the music really evokes … the terror of that period.”

Posted September 21, 2018