American composer Roy Harris Symphony ‘1933’ was the 1st commercially recorded symphony in the United States. Roy Harris 5th Symphony was commissioned by the Boston Symphony conductor Serge Koussevitzky, a close friend of Dmitri Shostakovich. Roy Harris dedicated his 5th Symphony to the Russian soldiers who were our allies during WWII. The work premiered Feb 26, 1943 with the Boston Symphony.
In 1958, Roy Harris was a member of our 1st State Department cultural exchange with the Soviet Union. Roy Harris was embraced by prominent Russian music dignitaries including Dmitri Shostakovich. Roy Harris conducted the Moscow Radio Symphony in a performance of his 5th Symphony.
During the second Red Scare called McCarthyism, Roy Harris was asked to stop a USA performance of his 5th Symphony. However, he refused with explanation that the dedication was directed to the valor of Russian soldiers during our heroic fight for world peace. Thereafter Roy Harris suffered an effective boycott of his music and physical threats that required relocation for the safety of his family.
The 1st half of POLITICS of MUSIC concert scheduled June 29, 2020 at the Music Center’s Walt Disney Concert Hall will include chamber music composed by Roy Harris plus violinist/violist Annelle Kazumi Gregory and collaborative pianist James Lent performing the 2nd movement of Dmitri Shostakovich Viola Sonata