The Music That Brought Hope To A Besieged City11:19

This article is more than 6 years old.

Twentieth century Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich's relationship with the Soviet government was a difficult one: He was sometimes acclaimed, sometimes vilified as being the epitome of the bourgeoisie.

But in 1941 he wrote his seventh symphony, more commonly called "The Leningrad Symphony" about the city of his birth. It was besieged by Hitler's troops and the population was starving. The music was considered so important, it was smuggled out of the country to be performed around the world, and a performance within the city brought hope.

Author M. T. Anderson has now written the book "Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad." His novel has been long listed for the National Book Award and he joins Here & Now's Robin Young in studio to talk about it.

Book Excerpt: 'Symphony for the City of the Dead'

Excerpted from the book SYMPHONY FOR THE CITY OF THE DEAD by M.T. Anderson, published 2015. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, Mass.

Shostakovich From The Show

Symphony No. 7 ("The Leningrad Symphony"), Op. 60, performed by Leonard Bernstein and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Symphony No. 3 in E Flat Major, Op. 20 (“The First of May”), performed by Oleg Caetani and Coro Sinfonico Di Milano Giuseppe Verdi

“Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, Act 1, Scene 1," performed by London Philharmonic Orchestra

Symphony No. 4 in C Minor, Op. 43, performed by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra


  • M.T. Anderson, author of "Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad." He tweets @_MTAnderson.

This segment aired on September 21, 2015.