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The human cost of war is a subject that has been expounded upon by many writers, but seldom do we read about the human face of historical events and the art that transcends them Sarah Quigly has created a ficitionalisation of Shostakovich s endeavour to compose his seventh symphony amongst the devastation of Hitler s invasion of Leningrad with a sublime sense of realism.Alexander Polinsky implores us to be kind for everyone is fighting a great battle and it is this assertion that draws us int The human cost of war is a subject that has been expounded upon by many writers, but seldom do we read about the human face of historical events and the art that transcends them Sarah Quigly has created a ficitionalisation of Shostakovich s endeavour to compose his seventh symphony amongst the devastation of Hitler s invasion of Leningrad with a sublime sense of realism.Alexander Polinsky implores us to be kind for everyone is fighting a great battle and it is this assertion that draws us into the character of Karl Eliasberg, the eponymous conductor No one can know of the circumstances of people s private lives, especially one so private as Elias He bemoans from the very outset of the novel that he was born without a heart and that he has never managed to fit in anywhere Throughout, Elias appears awkward, cold and socially inept in his dealings with other characters However the internal monolgues that Quigley has attributed him with do much to endear him to the hearts of readers Perhaps it is the burgeoning friendship with his young neighbour that reveals his vulnerability and ultimate sense of kindness Indeed, once he has determined that he is, gloriously, included in a benign conversation he finally allows himself to be exposed to the vulnerability that surrounds all human relationships and interactions.Although it is the music of Shostakovich that has transcended time and represented much of the horror of Hitler s plan to starve the city into submission , Sarah Quigley s novel does much to paint a vivd picture of the human face of history It is a face that reveals both fragility and determination and the necessity of love in the face of adversity I bought this to read on my way to St Petersburg and because I had enjoyed Julian Barnes The Noise of Time I just couldn t get into it though If it makes sense, it was too fictionalised for me The conversation seemed banal at times and although I was interested in a couple of the characters, I didn t much care for them Back on the shelf Maybe I ll manage to finish it one day. @FREE EBOOK ⚷ The Conductor ì In June , Nazi troops march on Leningrad and surround it Hitler s plan is to shell, bomb, and starve the city into submission Most of the cultural elite are evacuated early in the siege, but Dmitri Shostakovich, the most famous composer in Russia, stays on to defend his city, digging ditches and fire watching At night he composes a new workBut after Shostakovich and his family are forced to evacuate, only Karl Eliasberg a shy and difficult man, conductor of the second rate Radio Orchestra and an assortment of musicians are left behind in Leningrad to face an unendurable winter and start rehearsing the finished score of Shostakovich s Leningrad Symphony The Lambs of London Nazi troops march on Leningrad and surround it Hitler s plan is to shell Gangbanged, Forced & Fucked bomb My Husbands Girlfriend and starve the city into submission Most of the cultural elite are evacuated early in the siege The Immoral Majority but Dmitri Shostakovich Edera (Edera, the most famous composer in Russia I Know stays on to defend his city Screenwriters on Screenwriting digging ditches and fire watching At night he composes a new workBut after Shostakovich and his family are forced to evacuate Mann und Maus only Karl Eliasberg a shy and difficult man Island of a Thousand Mirrors conductor of the second rate Radio Orchestra and an assortment of musicians are left behind in Leningrad to face an unendurable winter and start rehearsing the finished score of Shostakovich s Leningrad Symphony This is a truly great book Great as in the sense of good, inspirational, deeply moving yet unsentimental The heroism of the musicians who battled starvation and exhaustion to learn and perform Shostakovitch 7th Symphony while the city was besieged and cut off and of their conductor who inspired and cajoled them into achieving the impossible is a story that richly deserves to enter into the stuff off legend Sarah Quigley might just have helped that to happen by bringing the story vividly back This is a truly great book Great as in the sense of good, inspirational, deeply moving yet unsentimental The heroism of the musicians who battled starvation and exhaustion to learn and perform Shostakovitch 7th Symphony while the city was besieged and cut off and of their conductor who inspired and cajoled them into achieving the impossible is a story that richly deserves to enter into the stuff off legend Sarah Quigley might just have helped that to happen by bringing the story vividly back to life for generations to come Although Quigley s writing was eminently readable, and even contained moments of really quite nice writing, overall the book failed to have the impact that I think it was intended to have or, at least, the one that I thought it would have It was enjoyable, but ephemeral I didn t particularly care when I reached the end, nor feel any emotion, positive or negative, for the characters.Partially this may have to do with unmet expectations The book takes place in the context of the German siege Although Quigley s writing was eminently readable, and even contained moments of really quite nice writing, overall the book failed to have the impact that I think it was intended to have or, at least, the one that I thought it would have It was enjoyable, but ephemeral I didn t particularly care when I reached the end, nor feel any emotion, positive or negative, for the characters.Partially this may have to do with unmet expectations The book takes place in the context of the German siege of Leningrad during World War II, and against the starvation, death and misery of that time The dust jacket blurb makes much of the fact that the book is about the titular conductor Eliasberg preparing his second rate orchestra for the task of a lifetime He is to conduct a performance of Shostakovich s Seventh Symphony a haunting, defiant new piece, which 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 onwards to perfection, 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 is growing weaker Now, it s a struggle not just to perform but to stay alive This is a profoundly moving novel about the resilience of the human spirit and the emotive power of great music Except it s not.The book is exactly 300 pages long Eliasberg is given the order to perform the symphony on page 248 The rest of the book is less a heart tugging paean to the power of the human spirit than an oddly insubstantial narrative hung on three oddly flat main characters, of which the most opaque and seemingly least important is Eliasberg None of the characters are particularly well developed In fact, the three main ones can be summed up in just a few words apiece Shostakovich self music absorbed, fickle Nikolai depressed Eliasberg resentful, inhibitedThe descriptions of Shostakovich s drive for composition are engaging, and give substance to his chapters that the other two main characters lack As a result, I found myself regarding him as the primary character, and certainly the most interesting, despite the fact that he s not supposedly the main character We re supposed to feel deeply for these characters, but they are just sketches, really, too two dimensional to carry our emotion Combined with some glaring examples of too obvious exposition As she disappeared from sight, he felt a conviction, stronger than he d ever felt, that one day she would be his wife As an example , the whole book ends up feeling sketchy as in, it s a first attempt that needs further fleshing out.So I m left with a question was the decision to title the book The Conductor and bill it as being all about that performance of the Seventh Symphony a a reflection of the author s original intention, which was never brought to fruition,b a reflection of a focus for the narrative that is, somehow, too subtle for the reader to grasp, orc an attempt by the publisher to disguise the fact that this is mostly a book about Shostakovich and perhaps World War II era Russia I d like to think that the answer is a Certainly, there is promise to the book, and I think that, given a couple hundredpages and severalrevision sessions, Quigley might have gotten there As it is, it feels like white bread nice to look at, but insubstantial This story takes place in Leningrad between the spring of 1941 and the summer of 1942 and is based on a true historical event In the autumn of 1942 the Nazis began the siege of Leningrad as they attempted to starve and bomb the city into submission The important musicians living in the city were evacuated by the Russian government, but Dimitri Shostakovich chose to stay and during this time he composed his Seventh Symphony, also known as the Leningrad Symphony.In the summer of 1942 Russian off This story takes place in Leningrad between the spring of 1941 and the summer of 1942 and is based on a true historical event In the autumn of 1942 the Nazis began the siege of Leningrad as they attempted to starve and bomb the city into submission The important musicians living in the city were evacuated by the Russian government, but Dimitri Shostakovich chose to stay and during this time he composed his Seventh Symphony, also known as the Leningrad Symphony.In the summer of 1942 Russian officials in Leningrad ordered that Shostakovich s symphony would be played in an attempt to boost the morale of the citizens who had managed to survive a gruelling winter with almost no food and no fuel for warmth As the pre eminent Leningrad orchestra and conductor had been safely removed from the city, the task of playing this symphony fell to the second rate Radio Orchestra and their second rate conductor, Karl Eliasberg Of the initial orchestra of 100 people, only 15 were left, the others had escaped Leningrad or died The orchestra was padded out with players from the army orchestra who were even less accomplished than the Radio Orchestra The players were so weak from hunger and cold that finding the breath to blow a wind instrument or the strength to push a bow across strings was a superhuman effort Sarah Quigley has taken this historical event and woven a beautifully written story around it She tells the story through the eyes of three people Dimitri Shostakovich, Karl Eliasberg, and a fictional character, Nikolai Nikolayev Quigley captures the singlemindedness of the artist, the jealousy and resentment of the second rate, and the pain and suffering of the people of Leningrad, all interwoven with the story of the music itself and the triumph of art over war.This book would make a wonderful movie A book that is maybeevolving about an atmosphere than about the story as such This might be a bit disappointing in the first part of the book, where several characters are introduced along with a beginning story It seems at first the book is about to evolve around a story of one of those characters, which becomes clear is not the case later on in the book Once you leave the longing for a story behind and just take in the setting of Leningrad, the dread of the war and it s difficulties, A book that is maybeevolving about an atmosphere than about the story as such This might be a bit disappointing in the first part of the book, where several characters are introduced along with a beginning story It seems at first the book is about to evolve around a story of one of those characters, which becomes clear is not the case later on in the book Once you leave the longing for a story behind and just take in the setting of Leningrad, the dread of the war and it s difficulties, you can take in the beauty of the book It shapes the change of a city and the citizens during war time in a serene way while giving the music a place on its own I really enjoyed the atmosphere and the depiction of family loss, reunion, grief, music, perseverance and life on its own I found it very difficult to rate this book Forthan the first half, I found it very slow going I found the characters with a couple of exceptions, Sonya for one quite flat and hard to empathise with There seemed to be no distinct plot and the characters nor the writing seemed to be quite enough to make up for what felt like a lack of clarity in the novel s direction However, for the last 100 pages or so I really did enjoy this book I found the setting vivid, the characters muchI found it very difficult to rate this book Forthan the first half, I found it very slow going I found the characters with a couple of exceptions, Sonya for one quite flat and hard to empathise with There seemed to be no distinct plot and the characters nor the writing seemed to be quite enough to make up for what felt like a lack of clarity in the novel s direction However, for the last 100 pages or so I really did enjoy this book I found the setting vivid, the characters muchthree dimensional and easier to empathise with and I felt a desire to keep reading I still think the plot was a little lacking, but I think that might bedue to personal taste This is a very moving and memorable novel, which begins in the Spring of 1941 with rumours of war with Germany and ends during the siege of Leningrad The book involves many characters, including Shostakovich, ignoring warnings and trying to get his Seventh Symphony on paper, his friend Nikolai and his beloved daughter Sonya and Karl Illyich Eliasberg, the conductor of the title Eliasberg conducts the rather second rate Radio Orchestra, while the conductor Mravinsky and the Philharmonic are Sho This is a very moving and memorable novel, which begins in the Spring of 1941 with rumours of war with Germany and ends during the siege of Leningrad The book involves many characters, including Shostakovich, ignoring warnings and trying to get his Seventh Symphony on paper, his friend Nikolai and his beloved daughter Sonya and Karl Illyich Eliasberg, the conductor of the title Eliasberg conducts the rather second rate Radio Orchestra, while the conductor Mravinsky and the Philharmonic are Shostakovich s chosen musicians Yet, as war comes closer, much of the musical elite of Leningrad are evacuated and Eliasberg finds himself left to conduct the cultural backbone of the city.It is hard not to emphasise with Eliasberg, who is finally given the chance to achieve greatness under impossible odds When he finally writes, orchestra can no longer work in the official logbook, it seems that his musical life is over Then the orchestra is ordered to reform and perform the Seventh Symmphony to raise morale Yet half the musicians are dead and the rest starving Profoundly moving and wonderfully realised, this is a very well written and interesting book If you want to knowabout the real life events the novel is based on you might enjoy Leningrad Siege and Symphony The Story of the Great City Terrorized by Stalin, Starved by Hitler, Immortalized by Shostakovich My interest in Sarah Quigley s fourth novel, The Conductor, was piqued when I read its description amongst the titles listed in the IMPAC longlist It s the story of how the 7th Leningrad Symphony came to be composed by Shostakovich and then broadcast on August 9th 1942 by a raggle taggle orchestra during the 900 day Siege of Leningrad in the Second World War.It s well written historical fiction, shedding light on the interior lives of three main historical figures composer Dmitri Shostakovic My interest in Sarah Quigley s fourth novel, The Conductor, was piqued when I read its description amongst the titles listed in the IMPAC longlist It s the story of how the 7th Leningrad Symphony came to be composed by Shostakovich and then broadcast on August 9th 1942 by a raggle taggle orchestra during the 900 day Siege of Leningrad in the Second World War.It s well written historical fiction, shedding light on the interior lives of three main historical figures composer Dmitri Shostakovich the conductor of the Radio Orchestra Karl Eliasberg and the musician Nikolai Nikolayev The story begins with the rumours that Hitler might be about to renege on the pact he had with Stalin, when life among the cultural elite is a m lange of backstabbing jealousies and gossip and Eliasberg is only on the fringes because a radio orchestra is not in the same league as the Philharmonic led by the great Mravinsky.With the outbreak of war civilians are enlisted to erect defensive measures and there is the rush to enlist The Philharmonic is evacuated to Siberia while Shostakovich takes up fire watching duties by night while trying to compose by day Quigley s portrait of a creative, driven soul trying to find solitude to in order to compose is heart wrenching he is always torn between the urgent need to record the scraps of music in his brain and the need to be there for his family He has two irrepressible children and a long suffering irritable wife and his position as an eminent musician means that unlike most citizens of the city, when conditions deteriorate further, he is offered evacuation He has to choose between loyalty to his city, serving it both creative and practical ways, and loyalty to his family and his obligation to protect them.To read the rest of my review please visit