Battle of Stalingrad, The

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Aram Khachaturian

Aram Khachaturian (arr. Grigori Kalinkovich)

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General Info

Year: 1949 / 1969
Duration: c. 28:20
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Orchestra
Publisher: Boosey & Hawkes
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - Rental


1. The City on the Volga – 2:05
2. Invasion – 2:45
3. Stalingrad in Flames – 4:10
4. The Enemy Is Doomed – 7:40
5. Into Battle for the Motherland – 2:45
6. Eternal Glory to the Heroes – 3:00
7. Forward to Victory – 4:05
8. There Is a Cliff on the Volga – 1:40


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None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

For Vladimir Petrov, a prolific director in both the Stalin and Khrushchev eras, Khachaturian composed two film scores, Battle of Stalingrad (1948–50) and The Duel (1957). On his work for Battle of Stalingrad, a two-part epic lasting some 220 minutes, he wrote: "To fill two hours with battle music alone! Nothing that I had done hitherto could be compared with that task—just as the battle itself surpassed in scope everything known to history until then. My task was, therefore, to compose battle music with the barest minimum of contrasting episodes to set off the dominant mood. This film needed no lyricism, no songs and no digression from the main subject. A high degree of tension was the only thing needed."

Contrary to what might generally have been expected in such a work, Khachaturian avoided any musical glorification of Stalin (played in the film by Alexis Diki) and concentrated on a dramatic emphasis of the tragic events shown on the screen, the struggle and suffering of the people rather than the position of the supreme commander. His own arrangement of Battle of Stalingrad into an eight-part concert suite gives the impression of a monumental symphonic fresco of tonal and thematic unity. As a theme to be associated with the city taking up its desperate defense against the German war machine, Khachaturian quotes There Is a Cliff on the Volga, a majestic folk song, heard after the opening main theme. The German aggressors, on the other hand, are defined shortly afterwards by the German Christmas carol O Tannenbaum, transformed into a grotesque march, similar to the Merry Widow theme in [Dmitri Shostakovich|Shostakovich]]’s Leningrad Symphony, if not so incessantly repeated.

The most original movement of the suite is certainly the short Eternal Glory to the Heroes, in which Khachaturian builds up a tense climax by a funeral march-like theme, surging from and dissolving itself again into a visionary dirge of alternating chords. The Enemy Is Doomed, another lyrical movement containing longer sections for strings alone, interrupted by an echo-like quotation of the Nazi motif, is a typical example of the composer’s skill in producing dramatic effect by minimal musical means.

The suite was arranged in 1969 for large band by Grigory Kalinkovich and issued on record in 1974.

Battle of Stalingrad can be compared with The Fall of Berlin, a score by Shostakovich for a picture by Mikhail Ciaureli, realised in 1949, the same year as the first part of Battle of Stalingrad. Both films are, in the final analysis, mere glorifications of Stalin and today only their sound tracks are worthy of revival.

- Program Note excerpted from Keith Anderson for Naxos CD Film Music Classics

Toward the end of his life, Khachaturian received an inquiry from the treasurer of the British Federation of Bands, Robert Peel. Peel asked for permission to write a band arrangement of Khachaturian’s ballet Gayane. Khachaturian then sent Peel the score to a suite he had written based on his music for the film The Battle of Stalingrad from 1949. The version for wind instruments was arranged by Grigori Kalinkovich. Khachaturian must have thought highly of it, considering that he sent it to Peel in the hope that it might be performed in the West.

The film for which the music was written was directed by Vladimir Petrov and is a feature film based on events surrounding the Germans’ attack on Stalingrad during the Second World War. The suite consists of eight movements.

- Program Note excerpted by Mikal Engen line notes for Lawo CD The Battle of Stalingrad

The Battle of Stalingrad (23 August 1942 – 2 February 1943) was a major battle on the Eastern Front of World War II where Nazi Germany and its allies unsuccessfully fought the Soviet Union for control of the city of Stalingrad (later renamed Volgograd) in Southern Russia. The battle was marked by fierce close-quarters combat and direct assaults on civilians in air raids, with the battle epitomizing urban warfare. The Battle of Stalingrad was the deadliest battle to take place during the Second World War, … the turning point in the European theatre of the war.

- Program Note excerpted from Wikipedia


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


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Works for Winds by This Composer


  • Battle of Stalingrad. Wikipedia. Accessed 31 May 2023
  • Khachaturian, A.; Kalinovich, G. (1969). Stalingradskai︠a︡ bitva : si︠u︡ita iz muzyki k kinofilʹmu : dli︠a︡ bolʹshogo dukhovogo orchestra [score]. Sovetskiĭ Kompozitor: Moskva.