Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

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

Anderson, M.T. (Author)
Candlewick Press 2015. 456 pages
First published: 2015
ISBN: 9780763668181 (hardcover)
Original language: English
Dewey: 780
Book type: Non-Fiction
Book genre: Biography

Text Elements:

conflict, multimodal, setting, stance

Award

Boston Globe-Horn Honor Book – 2016

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

“. . . about 27 million Soviet citizens died during [WWII]—more, in other words, than the dead of all other nations combined.” This narrative history shows how the Russian people—reeling from revolution and Stalin’s reign of terror—still emerged victorious over Nazi Germany’s genocidal aggression.

The sheer quantity of information is made comprehensible by the wit of the language (“Stalin was already responding to the military’s failures with his favorite managerial manoeuvre: blaming people and having them killed”), and its descriptive power (“The whole sector burst into flame. Two and a half thousand tons of molten sugar swamped burning alleys.”)

Quotes drawn from diaries of the time—family, artist-friends and Dmitri Shostakovich himself—give readers further insight into the tumult.

Shostakovich’s Seventh “Leningrad” Symphony is a shining example. Composed through pounding military attacks and the devastating siege of Leningrad, it was first performed overseas to awestruck audiences—to finally be performed at home by musicians who were starving on their feet. As the book successfully argues, the emotional impact for Leningrad’s citizens, and the symbolic impact for the rest of the world, would have a significant effect on the allied victory against Nazi Germany.

  •  

    Narrative non-fiction combines diaries, official documents, historical records and photographs, along with a narrative that features historical figures of early 20th century Russia.

  •  

    How is creativity, or artistic expression, influenced by the world that surrounds the artist? Consider authors you have read, artists you like or filmmakers you appreciate. How do their political and social worlds influence their work?

  •  

    Develop an inquiry into the way art and political movements are connected in different time periods. How are artistic works (music, visual arts, theatre) connected to different political and social movements in history? Are they connected today?

  • Citizenship and Community Life
  • Social Sciences