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Leningrad: Siege and Symphony
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Leningrad: Siege and Symphony [Format Kindle]

Brian Moynahan
4.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)

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Présentation de l'éditeur

Shostakovich's Seventh Symphony was first played in the city of its birth on 9 August, 1942. There has never been a first performance to match it. Pray God, there never will be again. Almost a year earlier, the Germans had begun their blockade of the city. Already many thousands had died of their wounds, the cold, and most of all, starvation. The assembled musicians - scrounged from frontline units and military bands, for only twenty of the orchestra's 100 players had survived - were so hungry, many feared they'd be too weak to play the score right through. In these, the darkest days of the Second World War, the music and the defiance it inspired provided a rare beacon of light for the watching world.

Setting the composition of Shostakovich's most famous work against the tragic canvas of the siege itself and the years of repression and terror that preceded it, Leningrad: Siege and Symphony is a magisterial and moving account of one of the most tragic periods in history.

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Commentaires client les plus utiles
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Fascinating and shocking 17 novembre 2014
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
B Mynahan combined the history os the besieged city with thde personal story of composer Shostakovich. He documents the many lives of the people who suffered from the Germans and from Stalin. He has a particuklar iterest in musical life in the besieged city. This is fascinating reading: a city woth no food had time en space for operettas .
The book is a collection of private tragedies. The work in archives and memoires is excellent.
We learn about the composer, and surprisingly : althoug he was not loved by Stalin, he still got a preferential treatment. The regime protects its artistic talent. But there is an astonishing irony : at nthe same time artists are arrestzed and executed ( the most famous name : Meyerhold). But that is perhaps the best definition of e regime of terror : the unprictabilty of the authorities.
And in the midst os all this suffering Shotakovich writes his Seventh SYmphony, a kind of bold gesture against the inhumanity of the times. Moynahan makes a case for the power of art. And the Seventh appears as one of the most important symphonies of the tragic century, especially due to its role as a symbol in besieged Leningrad.
Fascinating, revealing and very well written.
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28 internautes sur 30 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Leningrad Symphony 9 novembre 2013
Par S Riaz - Publié sur
Format:Format Kindle
Subtitled, "martyred by Stalin, starved by Hitler, immortalised by Shostakovich" it is clear before you even open this book that you are in for an emotive read. This is an incredible book about a city besieged by the Germans, starved, under attack, living in fear of their own regime and yet still able to remain defiant. Stalin notoriously disliked Leningrad, believing them bourgeois and distrusting their links with the Romanov family, while Hitler declared that Leningrad 'must disappear utterly from the face of the earth."

This, then, is the story of the siege of Leningrad and of Shostakovich's Seventh Symphony, the 'Leningrad Symphony'; composed partly in the city as the Germans closed in and then finished after the composer and his family were flown to Moscow in 1941. The work was performed in Moscow, London and New York. Could it though, be played in Leningrad itself? It was a huge work, demanding an orchestra of over one hundred musicians. Yet the Leningrad Philharmonia had been evacuated to Siberia and only the Radio Orchestra remained in the city - or what was left of them. The handful of members still alive were weakened by disease, hunger and the cold. Jazz musicians and members of dance or regimental bands were enlisted to play. Many died before the performance and those still alive could only rehearse for minutes at a time, unable to muster the energy to play. Shostakovich stated that, "I wanted to create the image of our embattled country, to engrave it in music."

"There has," the author states, "never been a performance to match it." On Sunday 9th August, 1942, the 'Leningrad Symphony' was first played to a city besieged by the Germans since September 1941. The German guns were less than seven miles from the Philharmonia Hall when the concert took place and yet, even under German fire and with a depleted and exhausted orchestra, the residents of Leningrad flocked to the Philharmonia. Skeletons dressed their pre-war finery it was an act of brave defiance. The author recreates this historical event in wonderful detail and explains what it meant - both to the people of Leningrad itself and the rest of the world. For example, it gave the Allies belief in the Russians and the story of their resistance and the performance of the piece (the score flown in over German lines) became a sensation. He also asks what the truth really was. Shostakovich certainly loved his city and cared about it, but even before the Germans arrived it was terrorised by Stalin. A city where even such a seemingly harmless hobby, such as stamp collecting, could be seen as a dangerous and anti Soviet activity.

Leningrad suffered terrible horrors under German bombardment as winter set in and food ran out. There was constant shelling, bombs falling, freezing temperatures and terrible hunger. The Germans also suffered from the weather, as the cold froze sentries to death, jammed their weapons and left them suffering and vulnerable in insufficient winter clothing. In Leningrad itself, the author tells terrible, heart rending stories of human suffering, of how people resorted to cannibalism, were starved, frozen and exhausted and yet still the purges, arrests and denounciations of the Stalinist regime continued unabaited; adding even more horror onto an intolerable situation. This then is a brilliant account of that music, that city and that time, which will undoubtedly stay with you for a long time should you read it. If you like this book, and I have no doubt that you will, you might also enjoy the novel The Conductor, which is also about the performance of the Leningrad Symphony.
9 internautes sur 9 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Somewhat of a slog, but very informative 22 octobre 2014
Par Gregory M. Zinkl - Publié sur
Format:Format Kindle
Like one of the previous reviewers, I was interested in this book because of the Shostakovich connection. Once you realize that you're reading basically a diary of events, it becomes easier to read. People come and go during the pages at a good clip, I dare anyone to catalog all the names that come through. It wasn't the page turner I had hoped it would be, but Moynahan ends the book well.
2.0 étoiles sur 5 Interesting and well-researched, but poorly written 4 janvier 2015
Par Smashing Plumbum - Publié sur
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
The story was compelling, but the book was not well-written. The author would jump in mid-paragraph from one topic to another, from Leningrad to Moscow or to the battlegrounds surrounding Leningrad, so it was hard to keep up with what was going on. I suspect that it was a deliberate style choice, but the book was difficult to read as a result. It's a shame because I think that the author had thoroughly researched the topic and I learned a lot about the story behind the 7th Symphony by Shostakovich.
1 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Difficult but Great Read 14 décembre 2014
Par Steve50 - Publié sur
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
I visited St. Petersburg, formerly Leningrad, for the first and only time in late May, 1992. I was there with other members of SouthWest BrassWorks, the faculty brass quintet at Texas State University. St. Petersburg is the most beautiful city I have ever seen. We were only there for a few days, but performed at the St. Petersburg Conservatory and stayed at the historic Astoria Hotel. When I noted that Brian Moynahan's hardcover book would be released in October 2014 I ordered immediately. I was not disappointed! That said, this was not an easy read. Moynahan's attention to detail and his story telling ability made the horrors of those terrible days come to life. The perspective alternates between following the life of Shostakovich and his writing of the 7th symphony, and of one besieged in Leningrad. Moynahan paints with stark reality the dangers of living in an atheistic society with a nefarious dictator, Stalin, and his perverse henchman, Beria, head of the NKVD, later to become the KGB. He reveals to us what it was like for a sensitive, frail genius like Dmitri Shostakovich to live and work in an environment in which he faced enemies on two fronts, the invading Germans, and the ever watchful eye of Stalin and Beria. Shostakovich became everyman's hero with his 7th Symphony, written during the Siege of Leningrad.
On a more personal note, twice Moynahan mentioned A. Anisimov. I wonder if he was related to Boris Anisimov, an elderly gentleman who we met in 1992 and who gave us some of his compositions and arrangements.
This book is highly recommended for musicians, historians, and anyone interested in ways people survive in the most difficult of circumstances.
7 internautes sur 11 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Leningrad at war 20 avril 2014
Par Angela Lindsay - Publié sur
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
I enjoyed it mostly because of the connection to Shostakovich as I am enamoured of his music.
I found I got bogged down rather in the middle with the detailed descriptions of every assault every single day. The revelations of the war going on inside the country at the hands of Stalin were spine chilling and almost took over from the deprivation of the war on the outside.
I sent it as a gift to relatives.
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