The Musician Shostakovich, and a Powerful Book

I have just read (in audiobook form) a most compelling book. I was raised in the classical music world so I have heard the music of Dimitri Shostakovich, but I never realized what a story there is about his life and music. He lived through the time of Stalin, and then the invasion of the Germans. He was evacuated from his home in Leningrad where many tens of thousands of people starved and froze to death. His music was a life sustaining force in Russia, giving the people hope, courage, and a voice to their emotions and grief.

My life overlapped with his by more than two decades. I know other musicians who left Russia to live in the US, but I never really thought about what they must have experienced or the case of colleagues, what their parents and families experienced.

As a fairly new musician, I’m beginning to realize the impact music can have on people so for me, it was so interesting to learn how music was life sustaining to the Russian people during these difficult times. I don’t expect to do anything near that level, but I’ll keep on keeping on a hopefully brighten people’s evenings along the way.

Another point that stuck with me – Those who ate their meger rations and curled up in bed to conserve energy usually didn’t make it, but those who went to work had a better chance of surviving. There is no physical/scientific explanation for this. And, working together and taking care of each other was also huge. The power of the human spirit is an awesome thing.

Read the book.

About Kris Cunningham

We live in David, Chiriqui Provence, Republic of Panama! This blog is about some of our experiences in our new country.
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4 Responses to The Musician Shostakovich, and a Powerful Book

  1. Sherry Felix says:

    My husband is reading “Testament” also about Shostakovitch.


  2. Diane Harrison says:

    What a great post, Kris! I have a new book to read now – thank you! I’m in Bocas until the end of April. I’ll be back in Boquete for a few days before I fly back to Cayman – April 27 to April 30. Hope you guys have a gig that weekend – I would love to see you!


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