“On 27th January, Holocaust Memorial Day, I’m conducting a symphonic concert at the Teatro Regio di Torino. While remembrance of what happened is a universally shared legacy that is marked every year on this memorial day, I personally feel the need to keep alive the memory of the horror within the horror that denied freedom of thought and appropriated the right to marginalise and even eliminate artists and works that were not “in order”. Musicians are giving Holocaust Memorial Day great support by proposing the works closest to their personal sensitivities and seeking to honour the deepest meaning of this commemoration in the way which they know best: through music.
Memory can be accessed through music in an infinite number of ways. For this concert, I have chosen a programme that invites reflection, starting with Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture, which was banned during the years of Nazism because the composer was from a Jewish family. This will be followed by one of Schubert’s ‘unfinished’ works, the less-frequently performed Symphony no. 7, because it is the incompleteness of lives that were cut short that has left the open wound of the Shoah. To end the concert, I will conduct the Shostakovich Symphony no. 9. It was written in 1945 and performed that same year by the Leningrad Symphony Orchestra conducted by Mravinski, and is part of the trilogy inspired by the war against Germany. However, the sense of joy that arose from the “merry little piece”, as the composer himself defined the Symphony, seemed from the outset to be contrived to the extent that, despite its perfection purely in terms of composition, it was not well received by critics in the Soviet Union, while it quickly redeemed itself in the rest of the world because it was felt to be a condemnation of the triumphalism of victors who had no consideration for the immense cost of the war in terms of human lives.