Shostakovich’s resounding Symphony No. 12 honors Lenin and the Russian Revolution, as the hammer and sickle symbolized the newly empowered workers and peasants. Mendelssohn’s exultant Symphony No. 5 commemorates the Protestant Reformation, a religious revolution initiated by Martin Luther nailing his Ninety-Five Theses to a church door.

While the hammer can easily destroy, in the right hands, it can also build, and, just as these pieces of music, it embodies the indefatigable human spirit in its quest for advancement.

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