When Kennedy Died, How Did the Boston Symphony React?

On the afternoon of November 22, 1963, the Boston Symphony Orchestra was scheduled to perform in concert.

But then word arrived that President John F. Kennedy had been killed.  Conductor Erich Leinsdorf quickly changed the program:  Instead of their planned concert, he distributed sheet music for the Funeral March from Beethoven’s third symphony, explaining to his musicians that they would be playing this instead of the piece which had been scheduled.

And then the conductor stood on the stage and made an announcement to the audience.

In the first minute of this video, you can hear the audience react to the news with shock.  Then, the orchestra rallies to the challenge, playing the Funeral March.

  • michicatholic

    You know, this happened half a century ago. Can we just let it go? It’s ancient history. We have a lot of more important things to think about now.

    • kathyschiffer

      Michicatholic, I wonder if you celebrate the Fourth of July? That commemorates something that happened more than 200 years ago. Or Christmas? That, after all, is a celebration of Christ’s birth 2,000 years ago.

      Obviously, those are singularly important dates in history; but there are other, smaller events which still command our attention years later. The Challenger explosion. D-Day. 9/11. It is not wrong to think of these things, to remember and reflect. Ease up a little, maybe?

  • Ren

    Only and accomplished orchestra can do something like that….sans practice!!! I am in awe!


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