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In September 1961, Yevgeny Yevtushenko's poem ‘Babi Yar’ appeared in the Soviet Literaturnaya Gazeta, addressing the mass shooting in 1941 of more than 33,000 Jewish men, women and children on the outskirts of Kyiv by the city’s German occupiers. Deeply moved by the poem, Shostakovich took it as the starting point for his Symphony No. 13 for bass, male choir, and orchestra. The work was premiered on 18 December 1962 at the sold-out Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory, despite resistance and intimidation from the political leadership which sought to avoid such an explicit reference to Jewish suffering. The first performance, which was acclaimed by the audience, was mentioned in Pravda the next day with only a brief single sentence.

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