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In memory of the bombing of Dresden by the British and American Air Forces, when tens of thousands were killed over three days from February 13-15, 1945, the Dresden Philharmonic performs Shostakovich's 15th and final symphony. From Dresden's brand-new concert hall in the heart of the rebuilt Kulturpalast, the great German cellist and conductor Michael Sanderling leads the orchestra with a masterful hand.
Shostakovich is a prominent counterexample to the fabled "curse of the ninth," after Beethoven, Schubert, Dvořák, Bruckner, and Mahler died before completing a tenth. Beginning in 1925, the Russian made fifteen contributions to the genre, ending with the 15th in 1971, written while Shostakovich was ill: "I wrote it in the hospital," he said in an interview with Royal Brown, "and even later back in the dacha, it would not leave me in peace. It's a work that simply took hold of me, one of the few to appear clearly in my mind from the beginning, from the first note to the last."