A battle for freedom
The author is an industry 1 reporter of the JoongAng Ilbo.
Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 13 is also called “Babi Yar.” It is the name of a town near the Ukrainian capital Kiev. One day in September 1941 in the midst of the war with Germany, the Nazi SS massacred more than 30,000 Jews, Gypsies and Ukrainians with machine guns in Babi Yar.
Shostakovich wrote the music based on a poem by Yevgeny Yevtushenko (1933-2017). Symphony No. 13 based on Yevtushenko’s poem criticizing antisemitism in Russia premiered at the Moscow Conservatory on December 18, 1962. The Soviet regime did not welcome Shostakovich’s work. Police were waiting outside the concert hall, and the program book was not distributed.
The life of Shostakovich is the modern history of Russia itself. He conformed to the regime, criticized it and strongly demanded artistic freedom. In “The Noise of Time,” British writer Julian Barnes asked with what he could confront the noise of time and wrote that Shostakovich pursued music that turns into a whisper of history over decades.
Once again, Bibi Yar is likely to be sucked into a war. One-hundred-thousand Russian troops have moved to the Ukraine border, and foreign media reports a possible invasion early next year. Just like the forcible occupation of the Crimean Peninsula in 2014 by Russia, effective control is predicted. The Russian government already shut off the Yamal-Europe gas pipeline to Germany via Poland. Gas supply was suspended for more than four days. The gas supply to Europe through the Ukraine was also reduced by nearly 20 percent.
With the Russian risk, the possibility of a gas crisis in the winter is growing, and energy supply in each country is also a concern. As gas supply is cut off, gas prices in Europe soar. While Korea only imports 5 percent of natural gas from Russia, the country could be affected if the global energy crisis continues.
But what’s more worrisome than the impending energy crisis is Russia’s likely invasion of Ukraine. The resistance against discrimination and freedom that Shostakovich put into Babi Yar is still buried in the noise of time. It is up to us to bring it to light.