Mieczysław Weinberg was a Russian composer of Polish-Jewish origin. He studied piano at the Conservatory of Warsaw and was soon praised for his musical talent. When the Germans invaded Poland in 1939, Weinberg fled to Russia, first to Minsk and later to Tashkent, where he worked at the opera. There he also met Dmitri Shostakovich, who was impressed by his talent and would become an important influence on his music. Furthermore, he arranged an official invitation to Moscow for Weinberg, where he continued to stay for the rest of his life.
Life under Stalin was not easy for a Jewish composer like Weinberg. His works were not banned by the Soviet authorities, but they were not always well received. Moreover, he had to live in fear of being arrested, which happened to him in 1953. Shostakovich came to his rescue by proving his innocence in a letter to Lavrenti Beria, chief of the secret police. However, it was mainly due to Stalins death that Weinberg was saved.
After Stalins death, Weinberg continued to work on his extensive oeuvre, which consists of amongst others 26 symphonies, seventeen string quartets and more than 40 film scores. The majority of these works were performed by leading Russian musicians and orchestras. Thanks to the increasing amount of recordings, his works become more and more well-known outside of Russia.