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How Shostakovich Changed My Mind by Stephen Johnson Details

Steven Johnson, a BBC anchor, explores the power of Shostakovich during Stalin's reign of terror and writes about the extraordinary healing effect of music on people with mental illness. Johnson…

How Shostakovich Changed My Mind synopsis

Steven Johnson, a BBC anchor, explores the power of Shostakovich during Stalin's reign of terror and writes about the extraordinary healing effect of music on people with mental illness. Johnson looks at neurological outcomes and psychological and philosophical therapy, and is reflected on his own experience, where he believes that the music of Shostakovich helped him to survive trials and attacks bipolar mood disorder.

"There is something about hearing your most painful emotions and turning them into something beautiful ..." spoke the old Russian who uttered these words to countless survivors of Stalin's reign of terror. And the "beautiful thing" that was in mind is the music of Dmitry Shostakovich. There was no evasion, no false consolation in the greatest music of Shostakovich: these are some of the darkest, most sad, sometimes bitter and music.

Why are many grateful to Shostakovich for creating it - not just the Russians, but Westerners like Stephen Johnson, grew up in a completely different and safer society? How can music that reflects pain, fear and devastation can help sufferers to find, if not a way out, then a way to endure these feelings, and rediscover the ultimate pleasure in existence? Johnson relies on interviews with members of the orchestra who performed the Chostakovich Symphony during the siege of Leningrad, where nearly one-third of the population was starving. In the end, this book is a reaffirmation of the kind of human miracle: this hope can be reborn in time, when the author quotes Nadezhda Mandelstam, there was only "hope against hope.".



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