Mravinsky conducted the Leningrad Philharmonic from 1938-88, focusing on repertoire that included the premieres of six Shostakovich symphonies. A hard taskmaster, he achieved a standard of performance that remains the stuff of legend.
A tribute by Semyon Bychkov
Yevgeny Mravinsky’s life was that of a hero, lived without compromise at the service of music. He had almost never conducted any other orchestra than his own, the Leningrad Philharmonic, which he molded into an extraordinary instrument of expression. Whatever the opposition, he persevered in imposing his vision of music and quality of performance. The recordings reveal the depth of his interpretation, but they are only a facade behind which hide the decades of rehearsals that never diminished in number nor stopped to fascinate in their intensity, vividness of imagination, humility and tireless demands placed on his musicians, while remaining aristocratically polite. Otherwise he studied nature, religion, philosophy, everything that would nourish his spirituality and translate into a musical expression that never ceased to evolve. He showed us the way not only in interpreting music, but in his attitude to it. His way of living his mission in life makes him a hero and a prophet.