For the western world Moisei Vainberg, or (likewise in Russian) Mieczyslaw Weinberg was for long a well-kept secret of the Soviet Union. He was born in Warsaw, where his father worked for a Jewish theatre as composer and musical director. In 1939, with German troops at his heels, Weinberg fled to the Soviet Union, where he studied composition at the conservatory of Minsk with Vassily Zolotaryov, a pupil of Rimsky-Korsakov. Two years later, pursued once again by war, he settled in Tashkent in Uzbekistan. It was from here that Weinberg sent his First Symphony to Shostakovich, who was so impressed that he arranged for him to come to live in Moscow in 1943. The two composers became good friends, frequently playing through scores on two pianos, inspiring one another, and performing their own music together for the obligatory inspections of the bond of composers. Shostakovich also assisted his seven year younger friend in finding work. All this in Moscow, where Weinberg was to remain for the rest of his life. In the meantime his family in Poland was murdered by the Nazis, and in 1948 his father-in-law, the celebrated Jewish actor Solomon Mikhoels, was eliminated on Stalin’s orders. In 1953 Weinberg himself was falsely accused and arrested. But Shostakovich, who considered his friend to be one of the best Russian composers, made a stand for him. In the end it was Stalin’s death that saved Weinberg’s life.Download booklet
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