The opening motif of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony makes it one of the most emblematic works in the history of Western music. Beethoven developed the first outlines in a period when he ‘wanted to take his own destiny by the throat’ and prove himself as an independent artist. Dmitry Shostakovich composed his Eighth Symphony during WWII ; it was a work with an unusual structure and sharp contrasts. Although it became clear in the second half of 1943 that Nazi Germany could be defeated, the symphony is permeated with the tragedy of the war and pessimism for the future. This concert has a personal significance for Hartmut Haenchen, who was born in Dresden in 1943 and grew up in East Germany. He is combining these works in a series of concerts on the theme of ‘war and peace’ on the occasion of the commemoration of WWI in 2014 and of WWII and German reunification in 2015.