30th December – What happened on this day in history?

To many, the 30th December is an incidental day between Christmas and New Year but this has not always been the case. This day, like many others has been witness to many important historical events. Described below are just a few;

1. On 30th December 1879 Gilbert and Sullivan's "Pirates of Penzance," premieres at the Bijou Theatre, Paignton, Devon, although the opera's official premiere was at the Fifth Avenue Theatre in New York City on 31 December 1879, with the one-off Paignton performances being carried out for copyright reasons. The show was Gilbert and Sullivan's fifth collaboration and would go on to be one of their most celebrated works.

2. On this day in 1922, following the revolution of 1917 and subsequent civil war, in 1922 the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) is established, comprising a confederation of Russia, Belorussia, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Armenian. Known more commonly as the Soviet Union, the new communist state was the successor to the Russian Empire and the first country in the world to be based on Marxist socialism.

In the decades after it was established, the Russian-dominated Soviet Union grew into one of the world's great powers, eventually comprising Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Belorussia, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. Coming to serious world prominence during the Second World War and later forming one of the principal aggressors in the Cold War, the USSR was finally dissolved in 1991 following the collapse of its communist government.

3. 1961 Moscow: premier of Dmitri Shostakovich' 4th Symphony. Shostakovich began work on his 4th Symphony in late 1935, however during the period of composition; the Soviet State Newspaper "Pravda" published an article denouncing the composer, on the orders of Stalin in January 1936. Nevertheless Shostakovich finished the work and even planned its premiere for December 1936. However, during rehearsals Shostakovich withdrew the work on the premise that the final movement needed reworking. It is unclear whether this was indeed the reason, or as is commonly thought, the composer bowed to political pressure. It is likely to have been a combination of both. Regardless of the reason, the decision most likely saved Shostakovich's life if not just his career. He subsequently turned his immediate attention to the less controversial and more politically acceptable genre of film music, although he was to later publish further symphonic works.

It is believed that the original score to the 4th Symphony was lost during World War II however as a result of the original instrumental parts being discovered in the archives of the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra, a score was reconstituted and work performed for the first time in 1961 by the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra

4. More recently, December 30th 2006 will be remembered as the day that Saddam Hussein is hanged in Baghdad. Saddam Hussein was President of Iraq from 1979 until he was deposed in 2003 following the Invasion of Iraq by USA led allied forces. Captured near his hometown of Tikrit, Saddam underwent trial for Crimes against Humanity, specifically the murder of 148 Iraqi Shi'ites in the town of Dujail in 1982, as revenge for an assassination attempt. Found guilty, Saddam was condemned to death and was hanged on 30th December 2006. Mobile phone footage of the execution was leaked to the media and apparent unprofessional nature of the execution drew widespread condemnation

These are just a few of the events that happened on this day in history.