The Lost Pianos of Siberia – Sophy Roberts
Shortlisted for the 2021 Stanford Dolman Travel Book of the Year prize
A critically-acclaimed Sunday Times, Spectator and Independent Book of 2020*
Now with colour photography by Michael Turek
‘Richly absorbing… An impressive exploration of Siberia’s terrifying past.’ – The Guardian
‘Evocative and wonderfully original.’ – Colin Thubron
Siberia’s expansive history is traditionally one of exiles, bitter cold and suffering. Yet there is another tale to tell. Dotted throughout this remote and beautiful landscape are pianos created during the boom years of the nineteenth century. 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 made the journey into this snow-bound wilderness in the first place is remarkable.
That they might be capable of making music in such a hostile landscape feels like a miracle. The Lost Pianos of Siberia is an absorbing story about a piano hunt – a quixotic quest through two centuries of Russian history and eight time zones stretching across an eleventh of the world’s land surface. It reveals not only an unexpected musical legacy, but profound and brave humanity in the last place on earth you might expect to find it.