I am about halfway through Max Hastings new book on World War II, "Inferno. The World at War, 1939-1945." It logs in at 651 densely-packed pages and weighs more than a Thanksgiving turkey or Easter ham. But Hasting is a brilliant historian of the period. He's earned the right to be slogged around like a soldier carries a pack.
Last night I read a few dozen pages on the Siege of Leningrad--a 900-day-long ordeal in which millions of Russians perished. Hastings writes: "At the end of August (1942), the Germans suddenly abandoned their strategy of containment, and launched a major offensive to take Leningrad. When that failed, the Russians countered with their own attack, which achieved dramatic gains. Some cultural life revived in the city: there were art exhibits, concerts and a performance of Shostakovich's Seventh Symphony in Philharmonic Hall."
This Shostakovich was written in the dark Russian winter of 1941 and was dedicated to the city of Leningrad.
I downloaded it this morning.
Whether or not you like the Russians, or like Classical music, it is worth listening to.
Rarely will you hear something of such intensity.
Something that quickens the blood in your veins.
Something that is deep and sorrowful as a corpse-filled trench.
In the amazing world we live in you can download the Symphony in a minute for less than 10 bucks. The first movement is 27-minutes long and will assault and assuage you with the major themes.
It is ultimately triumph.