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The War Symphonies

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.

'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


Main credits

Shostakovich, Dmitrii Dmitrievich (composer)
Gergiev, Valerii (conductor)
Weinstein, Larry (film director)
Weinstein, Larry (screenwriter)
Fichman, Niv (film producer)
New, David (screenwriter)
Zeventer, Gemma van (screenwriter)

Other credits

Editor, David New; director of photography, Horst Zeidler.

Docuseek2 subjects

Distributor subjects

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


Dmitri Shostakovich,; Stalin, purges, music, World War II, Valery Gergiev, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, Orchestra of Mariisnky Theatre; "The War Symphonies"; Bullfrog Films