Usually compared to ´War and Peace´, ´Life and Fate´ by Vassily Grossman (the first person to show the Nazi death camps to the world, an exhaustive catalogue of horrors that he chillingly documented in ´The Black Book´ along with Ilya Ehrenburg, a book banned by Stalin in order to avoid that the knowledge of the raging antisemitism got out together with the extent of his collaboration during the Jewish genocide) is considered one of the greatest novels of the 20th century. However, Grossman died in 1964 in Moscow without seeing it published. The Soviet authorities considered it so threatening for the regime that they even confiscated the tapes of the machine that it was written with and it wasn´t until 1980 that a copy of the manuscript finally managed to reach the printer.
In it, in an admirable way characterized by a certain emphasis that can only be reached through the highest form of literature, Grossman denounced from left-wing positions the distortion of the communist revolution, which Stalin had turned, at least since the first political expulsions, into a regime along the lines of national-socialism. The Second World War was a turning point in this drift, strengthening Russian nationalism with a patriotism that had been despotically fomented and imposed by the government and, under Stalin´s supervision, increasing the persecution of Jewish citizens, millions of which were repressed in atrocious ways, ways which most of the time ended with their lives.
That very same antisemitism, shown more subtly in the shape of quotas, which showed in the need to identify one self as Jewish and other types of restrictions of the rights of the Jewish population, was the reason why, right in the middle of the Perestroika, the parents of Regina Spektor who is offering a concert at Sala Razzmatazz in Barcelona (http://www.salarazzmatazz.com/) on the 10th of July, decided in 1989, when the singer wasn´t even 10 years old yet, to make the most of this political circumstance and emigrate from Russia to the United States, where they finally arrived after a long journey which saw them stop off in Austria and Italy. However, they nearly didn´t leave the country due to the impossibility of taking with them the Petroff piano with which little Regina practiced every day, fearing that it would frustrate her promising musical career, given that they wouldn´t have money for lessons when they arrived in New York, their chosen city.
Just like in a fairytale, once settled in the Bronx, her father, an amateur photographer and violinist, met another violinist in the neighbourhood, whose wife, Sonia Vargas (a splendid Peruvian pianist and a teacher in the Manhattan School of Music), offered to teach Regina for free, who at the time was practising with wooden boards painted as a piano and with a broken one that existed in the basement of the local synagogue.
The rest is already known, an extraordinarily brilliant, vibrant, stimulating and eccentric career whose latest album is ´What We Saw From the Cheap Seats´, which she´ll be playing live in the concert. If you rent Barcelona accommodation you might not want to miss it.