On November 22, 1963, the Boston Symphony Orchestra was about to begin a concert when the conductor, Erich Leinsdorf, announced to the audience that President Kennedy had been assassinated. The shocking announcement and the audience’s collective gasp of dismay is captured on this audio recording. Leinsdorf then announced a change in programming—the orchestra would play the “Funeral March” from Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3. William Shisler, the orchestra’s long-serving librarian, was present at the concert and recounts his memory of that day in this Time article.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have a press report over the wires—we hope that it is unconfirmed, but we have to doubt it—the President of the United States has been the victim of an assassination. We will play the Funeral March from Beethoven’s Third Symphony.