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The War Symphonies
Shostakovich Against Stalin

Shostakovich's musical counter-attack on Stalin's bloody purges.

A printer-friendly version of this page 80 minutes
Directed by Larry Weinstein
Produced by Rhombus Media
Music by Dmitri Shostakovich
Cast: Valerie Gergiev, The Netherlands Radio Philharmonic,
Orchestra of Mariinsky Theatre

"A superb introduction to the composer's life, personality, and music." Allan Ho, co-author of "Shostakovich Reconsidered"
THE WAR SYMPHONIES delves into the harrowing subject of Stalin's bloody purge on Russia and Shostakovich's musical counterattack. The Symphonies Four to Nine (1936-1945) are the composer's weapons against Stalin's rampant bloodletting, or as Shostakovich calls them, his "tombstones."

Shot on location in St. Petersburg and Moscow, the film features the passionate music making of Valery Gergiev with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic and the Orchestra of Mariinsky Theatre.

Grade Level: 9-12, College, Adult
US Release Date: 1997     Copyright Date: 1997
DVD ISBN: 1-59458-617-9     VHS ISBN: 1-56029-729-8

"Skillfully blending the memories of Shostakovich's confidantes with rare archival footage and the composer's searing music, The War Symphonies is as compelling a demonstration of Art's ability to stare down tyranny as we are ever likely to see...Nobody who cares about the survival of the individual in the face of oppression can afford to miss this film."
W. Mark Roberts, Recordings Editor, DSCH International Shostakovich Journal

"Weinstein's remarkably daring - even 'Shostakovian' - juxtaposition of rare sights, sounds, and reminiscences of musician survivors of Stalinism merits the wide audience it is certain to receive."
David Haas, DSCH Journal

"I highly recommend this video. Not only does it teach music history, but it also teaches human history, especially the crucial war years from 1936-1945 from Russia's perspective."
Dr. Brad Eden, North Harris Montgomery Community College District, Houston, MC Journal

"Time and again, the director and editors infuse their documentary with tremendous emotional power, as well as a piquant sense of irony...The War Symphonies should prove appealing to anyone interested in modern Russian history or music history."
Journal for MultiMedia History

"Well researched and brilliantly edited."
David Fanning, Slavic Review

"A superb introduction to the composer's life, personality, and music."
Allan Ho, co-author of Shostakovich Reconsidered

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Awards and Festivals
John E. O'Connor Film of the Year Award, American Historical Association
International EMMY, Best Arts Documentary
Golden Prague Award, Czech Republic
Best Performing Arts Program, Gemini Awards
Special Jury Award, Le Nombre d'Or-International Widescreen Festival, Amsterdam Certificate of Merit, San Francisco International Film Festival
Bronze WorldMedal, The New York Festivals
FIPA, France
Festival International du Film sur L'Art, Montreal
Film on Music Festival, Prague
Adelaide International Film Festival

Human Rights
Performing Arts
Russian/Slavic Studies
War and Peace
World War II

Related Titles

My War Years
Portrait of the 20th century's most influential composer.

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