Symphony No. 2 (Khachaturian)

The Symphony No. 2 in E minor, is one of the Armenian composer Aram Khachaturian's most well-known pieces of music. Completed in 1944, it was nicknamed The Bell or Symphony with Bells by Georgi Khubov for its bell motif that begins and ends the piece. A typical performance lasts about 50 minutes. Written during the height of the Second World War, Khachaturian's second symphony illustrates the pain that humanity, and the composer himself, felt at the time, although he was comfortably tucked away in the Composer's Union retreat in Ivanovo, with the likes of Sergei Prokofiev and Dmitri Shostakovitch. The composer described the piece as being "a requiem of wrath, a requiem of protest against war and violence." He also said that it "embodied everything that the people think and feel today." It was written for the 25th anniversary of the Russian Revolution. Critics have said of it: "The Bell is 50 minutes of unrelenting power, and those moments when you think it’s relenting are simply chances for Khachaturian to reload the IS-3 tank that is his orchestra." Although it took Khachaturian only two months to write, the composer would revise it many more times. The world premiere took place on 30 December 1943 at the Moscow Conservatory, with the State Symphony Orchestra of the USSR and conductor Boris Khaykin. The symphony's United States premiere was given by Leonard Bernstein and a special orchestra as assembled only for the occasion in Carnegie Hall on 13 April 1945. All the musicians performing dedicated their service to the War Orphans of Stalingrad, where the concert's proceeds were donated as well.

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