Leningrad: Siege and Symphony: The Story of the Great City Terrorized by Stalin, Starved by Hitler, Immortalized by Shostakovich
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
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.
In Leningrad: Siege and Symphony, Brian Moynahan sets 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. In vivid and compelling detail he tells the story of the cruelties heaped by the twin monsters of the twentieth century on a city of exquisite beauty and fine minds, and of its no less remarkable survival. Weaving Shostakovich's own story and that of many others into the context of the maelstrom of Stalin's purges and the brutal Nazi invasion of Russia, Leningrad: Siege and Symphony is a magisterial and moving account of one of the most tragic periods in history.
the amounts necessary to honour ration cards. Leningraders were entitled to 1,362 tons of fat over the month. The shortfall was 899 tons. They got less than half the meat ration. Only 837 tons of meat arrived, instead of the specified 1,932 tons. It was the same with confectionery, where 996 tons came over the ice in place of the 2,369 tons called for. An increase in flour deliveries, and a reduction in additives, was the only ray of hope. In Oranienbaum, the refugees who had fled there from
no longer living post-war, but pre-war to the next. Mussolini savaged Abyssinia, Hitler occupied the Rhineland, then hosted the Berlin Olympics. In Spain, the Civil War broke out: Stalin sent men and munitions to the Republicans, and Hitler and Mussolini reciprocated with support for Franco. It was bitterly cold in Archangel. Shostakovich waited in line at a newspaper kiosk on 28 January. He bought a copy of Pravda. On page 3, he saw an unsigned editorial under the headline ‘Muddle Instead of
They forced everyone to strip naked and throw their clothes onto red-hot bricks. ‘The lice made such a noise as they popped it was like machine-gun fire.’ * April was the cruellest month, in terms of the official record of burials. The Leningrad Funeral Trust recorded the burial of 102,497 bodies.18 It did for Izvekov and his eleven fellow accused, too. The Military Tribunal of the NKVD forces of the Leningrad Front passed judgement on them on 25 April. All were sentenced to the supreme
Ibid., p.45. 21. Barber and Dzeniskevich, Life and Death, p.42. 22. Classifications of the People’s Commissariat and the Central Statistical Office of the USSR State Planning System. 23. Barber and Dzeniskevich, Life and Death, p.40. 24. Ibid., p.94. 25. Ibid., p.105. 26. Pleysier, Frozen Tears, p.91. 27. Barber and Dzeniskevich, Life and Death, p.42. 28. A. N. Krukov, Muzyka v Aephire Voyennogo, Leningrada (St. Petersburg, 2005), p.60. 29. Lynd, Sedmaya, op. cit., p.99. 30. Honourable
attack went in before midnight, catching the Russians by surprise. Wild shooting broke out. The surprise and fear created in the salient was so great that some Russians surrendered without resistance, Knoche found, but the majority killed one another in the chaos and confusion. ‘Quite a few of the prisoners confirmed that,’ he said. ‘Also there was no other way to explain the heaps of bodies that we found in the pocket, especially in the trenches.’ By about 3 a.m. the pocket was almost cleared.