Announcement of JFK’s Death, From the Stage at Boston’s Symphony Hall

Friday marks 50 years since the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. That afternoon in 1963, concert-goers at Symphony Hall in Boston heard the news from the stage. 

The concert began about 2 o’clock eastern time, around the same time Kennedy was pronounced Kennedy dead at Parkland Hospital in Dallas.

Before the mid-performance break, word reached the Boston Symphony Orchestra and conductor Erich Leinsdorf.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we have a press report over the wires,” Leinsdorf said. “We hope that it is uncomfirmed, but we have to dobt it, that the president of the United States has been the victim of an assassination.”

Leinsdorf rather quickly announced that that the orchestra would play – from Beethoven’s third symphony – the funeral march. The stunned crowd stirred, then settled.

The orchestra took an intermission, a spokesperson says, and came back to finish the program.

Here is a longer excerpt from WGBH radio’s coverage of the Boston Symphony Orchestra that day:


More on the BSO announcement from NPR.