10 May 2005
No Better Way of Commemorating End of Second World War, UN’s Birth than Monumental Music of Shostakovich, Says Deputy Secretary-General at Headquarters Concert
NEW YORK, 9 May (UN Headquarters) -- Following are Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette’s remarks at a concert dedicated to the sixtieth anniversary of the end of the Second World War and the founding of the United Nations, in New York, 7 May:
I am delighted to welcome you all to the United Nations for this special event. What better way to commemorate the end of the Second World War, and to celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of the founding of the United Nations, than the monumental and moving music of Dmitry Shostakovich.
Let me thank His Excellency Ambassador Denisov, and the staff of the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation, for organizing today’s event. And let me extend a warm and special welcome to the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra and its conductor, Yuri Temirkanov.
Maestro, distinguished members of the orchestra -- we are deeply grateful that you could be here today to share with our international audience such an historically important composition as Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 7, or the Leningradskaya.
It may be worth recalling that when this symphony was first performed in Leningrad, as St. Petersburg was then called, the city was still in the first year of a siege that would last 900 days. At the end of that evening, on the 9th of August 1942, the head of the Leningrad Composers’ Union wrote in his diary: “One cannot speak of an impression made by the symphony. It was not an impression, but a staggering experience. This was felt not only by the listeners, but also by the performers, who read the music sheets as if they were reading a living chronicle about themselves.”
How fortunate we are then, today, to hear this masterpiece performed in the General Assembly Hall -- a place and a concept which the men and women of Leningrad could only have dreamt of in those dark days of hardship, horror and human suffering.
And how appropriate that we can look to the symphony as inspiration in this, our sixtieth year. It is a year in which the United Nations is looking not only to the past, but to the future: how to defeat poverty; how to build a collective security system able to meet our common threats; and how to increase respect for human dignity in every land.
Shostakovich once remarked that “a creative artist works on his next composition because he was not satisfied with his previous one.
So too is it, in many ways, with the United Nations. Our work is never done.
I think Shostakovich would have been among the first to agree -- to encourage us in our efforts to make the United Nations the most effective instrument it can be, in the interests of the people it exists to serve.
And so, on behalf of all my colleagues in the United Nations Secretariat, let me say, s prazdnikom, y bolshoye spasibo.
Happy anniversary, and thank you very much.
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