Symphony for the City of the Dead

Symphony for the City of the Dead

Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad

eBook - 2015
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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. Symphony for the City of the Dead is a masterwork thrillingly told and impeccably researched by National Book Award-winning author M. T. Anderson.
Publisher: [United States] : Candlewick Press, 2015
ISBN: 9780763680541
Branch Call Number: eBook hoopla
Characteristics: 1 online resource
Additional Contributors: hoopla digital


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Mar 24, 2020

Well written semi-biography of the great 20th Century Russian composer Shostakovich. Gives especially detailed analysis and discussion of the process of writing his 5th and 7th (Leningrad) Symphony. Discusses the pressures and hardship he endured both within his country where his work was at times disparaged, and from without from the Nazi invasion in WWII. Discusses in sometimes gruesome detail what the people of Leningrad endured under siege by the Germans for almost 3 years in the war. And discusses how the 7th Symphony lifted their spirits and helped, in some small way at least, to inspire Leningrad and the entire country to rally to victory. I played the 5th Symphony in a high school orchestra so it was nice many years later to read the story behind the music and its composer.

May 03, 2019

"My music is a weapon. We are struggling for the highest human ideals in history. We are battling for our culture, for science, for art, for everything we have created and built. . .I dedicate my Seventh Symphony to our struggle with fascism, to our coming victory over the enemy, and to my native city, Leningrad."-Dmitri Shostakovich
I have no idea why this book is classified as "young adult." Yes it's easy to read, but it's about one of the most brutal and longest sieges in history, that of Leningrad during World War II. Regardless, the story of composer Dmitiri Shostakovich who wrote his Symphony no. 7, also known as the Leningrad Symphony, during the siege, is a fascinating and inspiring read. Aside from the Nazis, artists in the Soviet Russia also had a lot to fear from the government, whose views on art were both influential and quick to change. For a more academic look at the siege, Anna Reid's "Leningrad" is well-researched and, well, horrifying.

Mar 31, 2017

I hadn't realized when I borrowed Anderson's book that it was YA, but that was quickly revealed in the writing style: short sentences, stating of the obvious, and a lack of complex language.

That said, if I hadn't read volumes on Russian and Soviet history, this would be an engaging entry into the social and cultural turmoil of what is arguably the greatest experiment in statecraft and its resulting terror.

Kids shouldn't read only to what adults consider their level, so I appreciate introducing names like Mayakovsky, Rodchenko, and Akhmatova. There's a youthful freshness in early Revolutionary art that is endlessly appealing, but it's important to also understand that kids ought not be sheltered from the darker side of Soviet history and the horrors perpetrated by a totalitarian government, lest they misunderstand the intent of future governments.

Feb 01, 2017

Anderson has created perhaps one of the best Young Adult works to date regarding the interplay of music, culture, and history, and how the combination of all three impact and influence our society. This deeply moving work, entailing how Dmitri Shostakovitch's 7th Symphony was not only able to inspire hope in a people oppressed by the brutal dictatorship of Joseph Stalin, in conjunction with the merciless onslaught of Nazi fascism besieging their city of Leningrad, but it also illustrates the true power of music in bringing people together; regardless of nationality, race, or political ideology--music unties us all. The book is very well-written, and Anderson offers clear, succinct explanations of more enigmatic musicological and socio-political topics which Young Adults will easily understand. Finally, as the book unfolds, we are offered an "insider's" glance at the life of a Soviet citizen in both pre- and post- WWII Russia.

One who has read this book will quickly realize the alarming correlations with certain political shifts in our own modern-day society with that of WWII-era Soviet Russia; the idea that "those who do not know history, are doomed to repeat it" is certainly made alarmingly apparent in this work, as is the true power of music to inspire hope, love, and the deepest egalitarian actions capable of humanity.

Cmlibrary_MDodds Mar 05, 2016

An amazing story about Dmitri Shostakovich, a Russian composer, who composed an amazing song to help rally and remember those effected by the siege from the German Army. It's an amazing story of how music and other forms of the arts can bring a nation together and instill a powerful message to all types of people during difficult times.

ChristchurchLib Nov 02, 2015

"In 1941, as Nazi troops surrounded the starving city of Leningrad, Russia, composer Dmitri Shostakovich was writing his soul-stirring seventh symphony. Already suffering under Stalin's relentless brutality, the people of Leningrad now faced a three-year siege that would kill millions, and cause others to resort to cannibalism. Even in the midst of this horror, Shostakovich's symphony struck a powerful note of defiance. Through the lens of Shostakovich's life, author M.T. Anderson reveals a tale that is sure to grab readers who are into true stories about music, war, and the power of art to inspire survival. For another page-turning take on Russian history, pick up Candace Fleming's The Family Romanov." Teen Scene November 2015 newsletter


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Cmlibrary_MDodds Mar 05, 2016

Cmlibrary_MDodds thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over


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