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The Conductor
by Sarah Quigley

RRP €18.50

The Conductor
by Author Name Sarah Quigley

Book details for title
List Price:18.50
Format: Paperback, 228 x 145mm, 304pp
Publication date: 01 Jul 2012
Publisher: Head of Zeus
ISBN-13: 9781908800039

Dubray Review

Leningrad 1941: a city under siege.  Music conductor Karl Eliasberg remains in the city while his eminent colleagues are taken to safety.  The composer Shostakovich finally leaves, reluctant to abandon his city. The people starve as food supplies are cut off.  When the bombing starts, Eliasberg’s Radio Orchestra is ordered to perform Shostakovich’s latest work to boost morale in the city and on the frontlines and, in doing so, the conductor and his surviving musicians are pushed to the limits of their endurance.  Hope disappears as life becomes unbearable – a child is lost, friends and family die – but then a small piece of good news revives their spirits and these brave souls struggle on. Love, after all, is still possible in this world.  This is a tough, beautiful story and the characters linger long in your mind once you have finished the book.

- Olivia Clear, Stillorgan


June 1941: Nazi troops surround the city of Leningrad, planning to shell and starve the people into submission. Most of the cultural elite is evacuated, but the famous composer Shostakovich stays behind to defend his city. That winter, the bleakest in Russian history, the Party orders Karl Eliasberg, the shy, difficult conductor of a second-rate orchestra, to prepare for the task of a lifetime. He is to conduct a performance of Shostakovich's Seventh Symphony - a haunting, defiant new piece, which will be relayed by loudspeakers to the front lines. Eliasberg's musicians are starving, and scarcely have the strength to carry their instruments. But for five freezing months the conductor stubbornly drives on his musicians, depriving those who falter of their bread rations. Slowly the music begins to dissolve the nagging hunger, the exploding streets, the slow deaths...but at what cost? Eliasberg's relationships are strained, obsession takes hold, and his orchestra is growing weaker. Now, it's a struggle not just to perform but to stay alive.


'[An] up-all-night page-turner... conveying the extraordinary life-saving properties of music, and hope' Observer. 'An extraordinary period of history brought into proximity by a daring novelist... Superbly imagined and brilliantly realised' Lloyd Jones. 'Deserves to be mentioned alongside Jane Smiley, Andrea Levy and Rose Tremai' Sunday Herald. 'Extraordinary ... a symphony on the power of love - the love of music, home, family, city... A triumph on every level' New Zealand Herald.