Are you interested in Russian history? Pianos? Travel? Then get yourself a copy of this stunning book.
For two years, Sophy Roberts travelled around Siberia. She was looking for pianos (the authorities didn’t believe her, but maybe they will, now that the book is published!) – specifically, pianos linked to famous people and events, with the aim of finding one for her friend, pianist Odgerel Sampilnorov, who lives in Mongolia. The result was an amazing journey which highlights what music means to people in adversity. I knew that Russian history is absolutely brutal but I didn’t even realise the half of it before reading this book. The history is focused on Siberia, which is a vast area with a comparatively small population, notorious for the gulags. The author expertly blends the essence of Siberia – its history, climate, nature, peoples – with the rise and fall of the Russian piano industry and stories of how the instruments managed to reach the remotest places.
The book is divided into three parts: ‘Pianomania 1762 – 1917’, ‘Broken Chords 1917 – 1991’ and ‘Goodness Knows Where 1992 – Present Day’. It’s beautifully written and not difficult to read. There are a very generous quantity of images – a section of colour plates and many black and white photos throughout the text. Also included are a chronology, bibliography, notes, index and maps.
First published in 2020.