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St Petersburg

The Essay, Music on the Brink Episode 4 of 5

15 minutes
First broadcast:
Thursday 09 January 2014

Stepping back in time exactly a century, five BBC News correspondents present their personal perspectives on the capital cities of the major European powers that, later in 1914, would fight the Great War.

The series continues with the remarkable city which would - uniquely - soon be renamed amidst bloody regicide and revolution: St Petersburg.

The BBC's Moscow correspondent, Steve Rosenberg, finds a revealing connection, however, between the St. Petersburg of 1914 and its counterpart of today.

Foreshadowing the appalling conflict to come across the European continent, he tells the remarkable story of the Grand International Masters' Chess Tournament of 1914, with its starring cast of Russian, German, French, British and American competitors and its dramas of who won and who lost.

But the tournament also demonstrated the Russian passion for chess that continues to this day and helps define its national identity as well as the fierce competition with other countries.

As part of the Music on the Brink season, each programme in this series of The Essay considers the special character of St. Petersburg, Berlin, Vienna, Paris and London.

Producer Simon Coates.


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