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Earwitness #64: the price of war 2

mon 14 oct 2013

‘Alles ter nagedachtenis aan jou…’ (“Everything in memory of you…”), our series over 20th century Russian music, continues in the broadcast on 14 October with music from the period of the Great Patriotic War.

Joeri Jegorov (Youri Egorov) plays Sergej Prokofjev’s Piano Sonata No. 8, a recording made by the Concertzender on 25 January 1986 during the ‘Sportief Holland Concert’ in the IJsbreker in Amsterdam.


Prokofjev was evacuated at the start of the war and spent some time in Naltsjik, the capital of Kabardië-Balkarië in the Caucusus before moving on in 1941 to Tbilisi, that was still a vibrant cultural centre at that time. Here he also read the ‘Ballad of the Unknown Youth’ by Pavel Antokolski, a book that inspired him to write a cantata.


Benjamin Fleischmann was born in 1913 in the village of Krasnoje in the Tyver district near Moskou. He played the violin as a child and later became a teacher.

In 1935, he went to Leningrad to study composition, and from 1937 was in the class at the conservatorium taught by Dmitri Sjostakovitsj. Sjostakovitsj suggested that he write an opera based on the story ‘Rothschild's Violin’ by Anton Tsjechov. Fleischmann worked on this until the Germans invaded Russia in the summer of 1941 and he joined the People’s Volunteer Brigade. Sjostakovitsj was able to obtain the unfinished manuscript from other students and completed it in February 1944.