Leningrad

Sol Hurok

The Iron Curtain, U-2 and Gary Powers, and culture all came together for pianist Byron Janis in 1960 as a United States cultural ambassador to the Soviet Union. While the US enjoyed pianist Sviatoslav Ritcher performing concerts in America, Janis performed in Moscow and Leningrad in 1960. While it has often been thought that officials and citizens were "bugged" and recorded for espionage, it came as quite a surprise that a concert had been recorded without the artist's knowledge.

Fast forward 48 years, and that historic performance by Byron Janis is now released by the artist himself. WBAA's John Clare spoke to Janis about the concert.

When the musicians of Leningrad first performed Shostakovich's Seventh Symphony, their city was under siege by Nazi forces.  The players were unsure they could finish the piece without collapsing. All of Leningrad was famished and frozen. Author Brian Moynahan tells the compelling story of how Shostakovich's ode to Leningrad made it to the stage, despite all odds. Leningrad: Siege and Symphony highlights the need for beauty and art in difficult times. West Lafayette Public Library Director Nick Schenkel has a review.