Boston Symphony Orchestra: November 22, 1963

We all love or respect or admire President John F. Kennedy for different reasons.  As a returned Peace Corps volunteer, I am grateful to President Kennedy because he started an organization that is now – and forever will be – near and dear to my heart, the United States Peace Corps.  It let me give something of myself in the service of others yet it wasn’t until my return that, like all returned volunteers, I realized I gained far more than I ever thought I could give.

President Kennedy was shot and killed on this day 50 years ago.  It was before my time, but I know I’ve talked about this with my parents who were both attending Hanover College at the time.  Mom told me how she was in a freshman year biology class when she heard the news.

With my generation, we know where we were for the Challenger disaster: in band class. And sadly, where we were when for the Columbia disaster: halfway home after serving in the Peace Corps.

I saw this today on

Taken from there:

In a powerful — and stunningly level-headed — decision, the orchestra’s music director, Erich Leinsdorf, sent librarian William Shisler to get the music for the funeral march from Beethoven’s “Eroica” symphony. Shisler quickly distributed the music onstage, letting the musicians know what had happened.

This recording, from WGBH in Boston, begins when Leinsdorf takes the stage to announce the terrible news to the audience and captures the BSO’s heart-rending performance of the Beethoven symphony — a work they found out they were playing only minutes before.

This isn’t a video, just a recording.  It’s beautifully played, so listen to it all.  Don’t listen to it all, but you’ll only need to hear the first 30 seconds to hear everyone’s reaction to the news of the assassination of our president. How the musicians – especially the winds – were able to play at all is well beyond me.

May we never again have to share in such an experience.

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