The Lost Pianos of Siberia (Paperback)Sophy Roberts (author)
A singular blend of travel writing, musicology and socio-political history, The Lost Pianos of Siberia tells a riveting tale of craftsmanship, survival and the power of music.
Siberia's story is traditionally one of exiles, penal colonies and unmarked graves. Yet there is another tale to tell.
Dotted throughout this remote land are pianos - grand instruments created during the boom years of the nineteenth century, and humble, Soviet-made uprights that found their way into equally modest homes. They tell the story of how, ever since entering Russian culture under the influence of Catherine the Great, piano music has run through the country like blood.
How these pianos travelled into this snow-bound wilderness in the first place is testament to noble acts of fortitude by governors, adventurers and exiles. That stately instruments might still exist in such a hostile landscape is remarkable. That they are still capable of making music in far-flung villages is nothing less than a miracle.
But this is Siberia, where people can endure the worst of the world - and where music reveals a deep humanity in the last place on earth you would expect to find it.
Publisher: Transworld Publishers Ltd
Number of pages: 448
Weight: 316 g
Dimensions: 198 x 127 x 27 mm
‘A richly absorbing account of Siberia over the last 250 years, As much elegy as detective story.’ - The Guardian
'An exceptional travel book about a musical quest in an ill-known region.' - The Sunday Times
'A sparkling debut by an outstanding and gifted author. A brilliant guide to Russia of the past and the present, set around an extraordinary search for the heart, soul and lost keyboards of centuries gone by.’ - Peter Frankopan
'A masterpiece of modern travel literature with words that sing from its pages. A definitive exploration of Russia's wild east.' - Levison Wood
'An extraordinary, cadenced journey into music, exile and landscape.' - Edmund de Waal
'This is an amazing journey, the ultimate quest for the oddest objects - pianos - in the most unlikely place - Siberia. But Sophy Roberts makes it much more than that, an elegant and nuanced journey through literature, through history, through music, murder and incarceration and revolution, through snow and ice and remoteness, to discover the human face of Siberia. I loved this book.' - Paul Theroux
'An exuberant, eccentric journey through Russian vastness, European history and Russian culture, The Lost Pianos of Siberia is a quixotic quest, a picaresque travel adventure and a strange forgotten story, all wrapped into one fascinating book.' - Simon Sebag-Montefiore
'Courage, patience, erudition and a sympathetic imagination... A travel book of rare quality.' - Dervla Murphy
'A modern-day Freya Stark.' - Tatler
'The Lost Pianos of Siberia is one of those magical books that captures the imagination and draws you into the beauty and majesty of Siberia. Idiosyncratic in style - part travelogue, part history, part detective trail - it is full of wonderful stories about human endurance through adversity and the transformative power of music in the most remote and forgotten outposts of this vast territory. A book to savour and remember.' - Helen Rappaport
'Utterly fascinating and revealing to anyone who only knows Siberia through its Great Myth as a forgotten, frozen Nowhere.' - Christopher Somerville
'A thrilling adventure to the ends of the earth, where sunlight glitters in the snowdrifts and the strains of the exile's song floats through the air. Pack your suitcases for Siberia - Sophy Roberts' gorgeous prose will summon you there like a smell.' - Cal Flyn
'Absolutely intoxicating. Such vivid detail, rich atmosphere, heartbreak, and elegance. Sophy Roberts melds research and personal experience to trace the paths of political prisoners, convicts, and conscripts determined to find beauty in exile, and track down the regal pianos now scattered in villages, museums, and storehouses across the largest country on earth. Some cherished and some neglected, these pianos tell of the musical colonization of a continent, and their stories sing.' - Jonathan C. Slaght
'Romance and tragedy, gulags and tower blocks, princes and oligarchs and of course tigers and pianos, Roberts captures all the wonder and heartbreak of an entire Empire in one feast of a book.' - Ben Rawlence
'Utterly absorbing - a wonderful addition to the story of resilience, tragedy and triumph that are the hallmarks of Siberia. Roberts displays an empathy and understanding worthy of this deeply haunted, strangely fascinating land.' - Benedict Allen
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