Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad

M.T. Anderson. Candlewick, $24.99 (464p) ISBN 978-0-7636-6818-1
Anderson’s ambitious nonfiction hybrid strives to meld the history of the bloody events of Russia from the 1917 Revolution through its transformation into the Soviet Union to the atrocities of WWII with a biography of prolific Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich (1906–1975), who was both a victim and a hero of the times he lived in. Anderson has clearly done his research, much of it original, and some of the strongest chapters—especially one on starvation and cannibalism in Leningrad during the winter of 1942—are filled with gruesome details from primary sources. But his treatment of Shostakovich’s life and character is often speculative, failing to richly evoke the composer’s passion and talent for music. In some heavily historical chapters, Shostakovich is only a minor presence. With numerous anecdotes incorporating language like “apparently,” “supposedly,” and “may have,” Anderson draws attention to the difficulty of verifying source material from this historical period in Russia, even questioning one of the major sources on Shostakovich’s life. A fascinating, if uneven, examination of an important musical figure living in a time of extraordinary political and social turmoil. Ages 14–up. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 06/29/2015
Release date: 09/22/2015
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-4915-8848-2
MP3 CD - 978-1-4915-8839-0
Compact Disc - 978-1-4915-8830-7
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-5113-2667-4
Compact Disc - 978-1-4915-8821-5
Paperback - 464 pages - 978-0-7636-9100-4
MP3 CD - 978-1-5318-6319-7
Compact Disc - 978-1-5318-6318-0
Prebound-Glued - 464 pages - 978-0-606-39102-3
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