A History of the World, Part CXXIV

1939. From a city under siege by the Germans and bombarded almost hourly by the Luftwaffe, Radio Polskie continues daily broadcasts of that symbol of Polish Glory, Chopin’s Polonaise in A Major, Op. 40, No. 1. The piece, better known as the Military Polonaise, is accompanied by the voice of President of Warsaw Stefan Starzyński, who reports, “We are holding out.”

Polonaise in A Major, Op. 40, No. 1, performed by F. Sarro

1943. On the Eastern Front, pianist Emil Gilels performs for the Soviet troops that symbol of Russian Glory, Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in G Minor, Op. 23, No. 5. In the film, the narrator tells us, “Gilels is playing at the front, to remind us what the war is worth fighting for: Immortal music!”

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