Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad
I haven't read this, but my son really enjoyed it. I picked it up at Square Books in Oxford; when I described my son's reading preferences they instantly reached for this book. This is the true story of how the Leningrad Symphony played a surprising role on the path to allied victory. From 1941-1944, Hitler's Wermacht surrounded Leningrad, laying siege to the city and preventing supplies from getting in or out. Those three years saw utter destruction, over a million deaths, and horrifying poverty. Trapped yet inspired by his countrymen, Dmitri Shostakovich wrote the Leningrad Symphony. Audiobook listeners: this one includes snippets of the music as you listen, providing a layered experience.
National Book Award winner M. T. Anderson delivers an account of the Siege of Leningrad and the role played by Russian composer Shostakovich and his Leningrad Symphony.
In September 1941, Adolf Hitler’s Wehrmacht surrounded Leningrad in what was to become one of the longest and most destructive sieges in Western history—almost three years of bombardment and starvation that culminated in the harsh winter of 1943–1944. More than a million citizens perished. Survivors recall corpses littering the frozen streets, their relatives having neither the means nor the strength to bury them. Residents burned books, furniture, and floorboards to keep warm; they ate family pets and—eventually—one another to stay alive. Trapped between the Nazi invading force and the Soviet government itself was composer Dmitri Shostakovich, who would write a symphony that roused, rallied, eulogized, and commemorated his fellow citizens—the Leningrad Symphony, which came to occupy a surprising place of prominence in the eventual Allied victory.
This is the true story of a city under siege: the triumph of bravery and defiance in the face of terrifying odds. It is also a look at the power—and layered meaning—of music in beleaguered lives.