ARMCHAIR TRAVEL SERIES: The Lost Pianos of Siberia | How To Academy

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Wed, 3 June 2020

6:30 pm - 7:30 pm GMT


ARMCHAIR TRAVEL SERIES: The Lost Pianos of Siberia

Sophy Roberts

Escape the lockdown blues and journey across the frozen tundra of Russia’s wild east, as traveller Sophy Roberts tells us a tale of music, murder, and revolution.

Siberia’s story is one of exiles, penal colonies and unmarked graves. Yet there is another tale to tell. This is Siberia, where people can endure the worst of the world – and where music reveals a deep humanity in the last place on Earth you would expect to find it.

In the summer of 2015, travel writer Sophy Roberts was sitting in a tent in Mongolia talking to a brilliantly talented young musician. The young musician was expressing her deep sadness at not having a piano to play. Yet Siberia was nearby and Russia has an extraordinary history of piano music. To Sophy, it made some kind of sense to go and look for a historic piano just over the border.

What began as an eccentric idea quickly grew into an obsession. Sophy spent many months on the ground, criss-crossing territory from Kamchatka to the Urals, from the Arctic to the Kuril Islands on Russia’s Pacific edge. Her search became a kind of passport to enter the more intimate recesses of individuals’ homes, memories and experiences, both musical and far more besides.

In this free, multimedia-rich livestreamed talk, Sophy will whisk us to the wilds of Siberia and back again from the comfort of our living rooms. On the hunt for something she did not know she would find across one of the world’s most remote, driven all the while by the blind hope that things would work out in the end, Sophy’s story is an enthralling tale that subverts western expectations of Russian life and culture.

Praise for Sophy Roberts:

‘This is an amazing journey, the ultimate quest for the oddest objects – pianos – in the most unlikely place – Siberia. But Sophy Roberts makes it much more than that, an elegant and nuanced journey through literature, through history, through music, murder and incarceration and revolution, through snow and ice and remoteness, to discover the human face of Siberia. I loved this book.’ – Paul Theroux

‘An extraordinary, cadenced journey into music, exile and landscape.’ – Edmund de Waal

‘A sparkling debut by an outstanding and gifted author. A brilliant guide to Russia of the past and the present, set around an extraordinary search for the heart, soul and lost keyboards of centuries gone by.’ – Peter Frankopan

‘A masterpiece of modern travel literature with words that sing from its pages. A definitive exploration of Russia’s wild east.’ – Levison Wood

This talk takes place at 6:30pm British Summer Time.

About Our Digital Programme:

In response to the global pandemic, How To Academy is curating a not-for-profit programme of live-streamed talks and conversations bringing you advice, insight and entertainment. Tickets are offered on a Pay What You Can basis, including a Free option for those who cannot afford more at this difficult time. Thank you for your help sustaining How To Academy through the crisis — and for enabling us to share new thinking from across the globe at a time when it has never been more important.

Books will be shipped within two weeks of the event (hopefully sooner). Please note that due to the challenges of distribution during the global pandemic, some books may be delayed. If we experience any delay in getting your copy to you, we will contact you by email to let you know. Thank you for supporting a local London business, Primrose Hill Books.

All images are credited to Michael Turek – We encourage you to visit his website here

Sophy Roberts

Author and journalist who regularly contributes to the Financial Times.

Sophy Roberts is a British writer whose work focuses on the wild places from Papua New Guinea to the Congo. She began her career assisting the writer Jessica Mitford, and trained in journalism at Columbia University in New York. She regularly contributes to the Financial Times and the US edition of Condé Nast Traveler, among others. The Lost Pianos of Siberia is her first book.