On November 22, 1963, when the news broke that President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated, the Boston Symphony changed its program and Erich Leinsdorf, the conductor, announced the tragic news.Before the program began, it had been reported across the nation that president John F. Kennedy had been shot in Dallas. It was known, too, that his injuries were serious, but that was all the information that was available. During the first half of the concert, what was feared became confirmed: Kennedy’s wounds were fatal. Orchestra officials determined to continue the concert, but with a change in the program. Librarians pulled orchestral parts to Beethoven’s ‘Eroica’ funeral march from the shelves and brought them down to the stage door. After learning of the tragedy himself backstage, Leinsdorf walked back onstage, relayed word to the audience, and led the BSO in a work in tribute to the nation’s fallen leader.

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