Damian Thompson

How a sadistic Kremlin tormented Jewish musicians

How a sadistic Kremlin tormented Jewish musicians
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The new episode of the Holy Smoke podcast looks at the cruel cat-and-mouse game that the Soviet Union played with Jewish classical musicians at a time when it was sneakily trying to extinguish both their religion and their ethnic identity.

It's prompted by the story of Maria Grinberg, the magnificent Russian Jewish pianist whose recorded legacy was mysteriously suppressed by the authorities, possibly because of her support for Israel; I recently wrote a column about her in the Spectator's arts pages.

My guest is the brilliant young Israeli pianist Ariel Lanyi, who explains how Jewish composers had to find surreptitious ways of referring to their Jewishness – something they could do only fleetingly, often in the disguise of socialist realism. It's an eye-opening discussion, sadly relevant to politics in the 21st century. Do listen to it – and subscribe to the Holy Smoke podcast.