The Conductor

The Conductor

Book - 2012
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June 1941: Nazi troops surround the city of Leningrad, planning to shell and starve its people into submission. Most of the cultural elite escape, but the famous composer Shostakovich stays behind to defend his city. That winter, the bleakest in Russian history, the Party orders Karl Eliasberg, the shy, difficult conductor of a second-rate orchestra, to prepare for the task of a lifetime: he is to organize a performance of Shostakovich’s Seventh Symphony, a haunting, defiant new piece that will be relayed by loudspeakers to the front lines. Eliasberg’s musicians are starving and scarcely have the strength to carry their instruments, but for five freezing months, the conductor stubbornly drives them on, depriving those who falter of their bread rations. Slowly the music begins to dissolve the nagging hunger, the exploding streets, the slow deaths . . . but at what cost? Eliasberg’s relationships are strained, obsession takes hold and his orchestra grows weaker. Soon, they are struggling not just to perform but to stay alive.

Publisher: Toronto : HarperCollins, 2012, c2011
Description: 303 p. ; 23 cm
ISBN: 9781443413091
Branch Call Number: Quig


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Mar 28, 2017

Although this novel started slowly, it does indeed have all the elements : history, creative musical minds, genuine humans, great characterizations and dialogue. One need not be a either a history buff or a classical music fan to enjoy this but it helps. Well recommended.

Nov 15, 2013

This novel has all of the ingredients of a great story - seige of Leningrad, Shostakovich - and is about resilience and the power of music. However, it is somewhat sentimental and does not reflect Soviet society very well. A better book is Helen Dunmore's "The Seige".

Feb 20, 2012

Further to my comment, I recommend you google the seige of Leningrad, and its effect on the City, and Karl Eliasberg before you read the book

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