– Winner of the 2021 Rubery Book Award – BBC music broadcaster Stephen Johnson (who has Bipolar Disorder himself) explores the power of Shostakovich’s music during Stalin’s reign of terror, and writes of the extraordinary healing effect of music on the mind for sufferers of mental illness.Read more
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... an intensely readable,highly personal analysis of the major works of a composer, who, Mr. Johnson decides, has recorded a collective experience for an all-inclusive listenership.... All great music teeters the edge of madness. This troubled writer makes a convincing case that the music of Dmitri Shostakovich helped to save his mind. In life's crises, he suggests, each of us comes up against an internal siege of Leningrad, and music comes to your relief.
Norman Lebrecht, The Wall Street Journal Full article
Profoundly moving. - Best Classical Music Books of the Year 2018
Jessica Duchen, The Sunday Times Full article
'How Shostakovich Changed My Mind’ is one of the most powerful, honest, and profound revelations that exists on what it is that music means and does: it’s just an essential document.
Tom Service, Presenter, Music Matters
I started reading and was hooked. Within a few pages I knew I had fallen into the company of the most wonderful interlocutor. Stephen Johnson take the reader from the most profound meditations on music, to delicious anecdotes about Shostakovich, to penetrating observations about the nature of art and the way it may rescue us from despair. I finished it inspired by a sense of human possibility.
Professor Raymond Tallis
Stephen Johnson is one of our most sensitive and thoughtful music critics, and this book, written from the heart about a composer whom he loves and admires, will prove be a landmark in the understanding of its subject.
Sir Roger Scruton