counter create hit Hiding in the Spotlight: A Musical Prodigy's Story of Survival, 1941-1946 - Download Free eBook
Hot Best Seller

Hiding in the Spotlight: A Musical Prodigy's Story of Survival, 1941-1946

Availability: Ready to download

Zhanna, a young Jewish girl from Ukraine, also happens to be a gifted piano prodigy and is giving concerts by the age of six. When disaster strikes her hometown and her family is condemned to exile and execution, Zhanna manages to escape the famed Nazi death march to Dorbitsky Yar and uses her rare musical gift to help her survive. Performing and giving concerts for the oc Zhanna, a young Jewish girl from Ukraine, also happens to be a gifted piano prodigy and is giving concerts by the age of six. When disaster strikes her hometown and her family is condemned to exile and execution, Zhanna manages to escape the famed Nazi death march to Dorbitsky Yar and uses her rare musical gift to help her survive. Performing and giving concerts for the occupying German troops as they move throughout Europe, Zhanna keeps her true identity a secret until a young American soldier with ties to Julliard adopts her. Upon her emigration to America, Zhanna’s gift flourishes and she becomes one of the first Jewish refugees to enter Julliard.


Compare

Zhanna, a young Jewish girl from Ukraine, also happens to be a gifted piano prodigy and is giving concerts by the age of six. When disaster strikes her hometown and her family is condemned to exile and execution, Zhanna manages to escape the famed Nazi death march to Dorbitsky Yar and uses her rare musical gift to help her survive. Performing and giving concerts for the oc Zhanna, a young Jewish girl from Ukraine, also happens to be a gifted piano prodigy and is giving concerts by the age of six. When disaster strikes her hometown and her family is condemned to exile and execution, Zhanna manages to escape the famed Nazi death march to Dorbitsky Yar and uses her rare musical gift to help her survive. Performing and giving concerts for the occupying German troops as they move throughout Europe, Zhanna keeps her true identity a secret until a young American soldier with ties to Julliard adopts her. Upon her emigration to America, Zhanna’s gift flourishes and she becomes one of the first Jewish refugees to enter Julliard.

30 review for Hiding in the Spotlight: A Musical Prodigy's Story of Survival, 1941-1946

  1. 4 out of 5

    Meaghan

    The story of two sisters, Russian/Ukrainian Jewish piano prodigies, who survived the war under false identities playing the piano for Nazi officers. Written by the son of one of the girls. The section on the war is not as detailed as I would like, and it covers only about half the book -- the rest of the pages are devote to the girls' childhood and the beginnings of their musical careers, and then to the post-war period. I was fascinated by the character of the American officer who recognized th The story of two sisters, Russian/Ukrainian Jewish piano prodigies, who survived the war under false identities playing the piano for Nazi officers. Written by the son of one of the girls. The section on the war is not as detailed as I would like, and it covers only about half the book -- the rest of the pages are devote to the girls' childhood and the beginnings of their musical careers, and then to the post-war period. I was fascinated by the character of the American officer who recognized their talent and actually adopted them just so he could bypass the immigration quotas and get them into the United States. Piano enthusiasts as well as people interested in the Holocaust would find this well worth reading.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    Zhanna and Frina were lucky in many ways: they were blessed with substantial talent, staunchly supportive parents, a rich musical culture, and each other. Without any one of these, they may not have even survived the unspeakable atrocities that took their family and neighbors; but they did more than just survive. The headstrong young Zhanna took her father's parting words to heart, and he would be proud of just how she lived. Besides telling Zhanna's incredible story, Hiding in the Spotlight is Zhanna and Frina were lucky in many ways: they were blessed with substantial talent, staunchly supportive parents, a rich musical culture, and each other. Without any one of these, they may not have even survived the unspeakable atrocities that took their family and neighbors; but they did more than just survive. The headstrong young Zhanna took her father's parting words to heart, and he would be proud of just how she lived. Besides telling Zhanna's incredible story, Hiding in the Spotlight is a frank but loving reminder of those who were not so lucky. The streets and neighbors of Zhanna's youth come to life, and it's heartbreaking to think of the idyllic scene being shattered - bombed, raided, murdered. It's unfathomable to me that this hell was the work of mankind, but it was... and it still continues in the world today. That Zhanna came through still able to smile, love, and make music is a testament to her resilience and spirit.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Dana

    The story itself is 5 stars. Unbelievable, sad, interesting true story. But the writing was somewhat repetitive for a not very long book. And I felt the author (the son) was a little too excessive in building up how amazing of a musician Zhanna was. We get it, she was super talented, for sure. It just felt like he was trying to continuously impress or convince. But still a story I had not heard about and enjoyed learning of.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Mazzy Mitchell

    Wow. As a pianist with a growing Russian obsession, it was dazzling and gritty and powerful. I loved the theme of music (obviously, but there's more to it than that), and the insights into Russian culture and history (eep). Every time I saw a piano piece mentioned I desperately wanted to hear it but I didn't have my phone with me. I still want to go back and make a playlist with all the songs mentioned. (At the end I discovered a repertoire of their pieces from the war, but it's not enough; and Wow. As a pianist with a growing Russian obsession, it was dazzling and gritty and powerful. I loved the theme of music (obviously, but there's more to it than that), and the insights into Russian culture and history (eep). Every time I saw a piano piece mentioned I desperately wanted to hear it but I didn't have my phone with me. I still want to go back and make a playlist with all the songs mentioned. (At the end I discovered a repertoire of their pieces from the war, but it's not enough; and did I mention my heart dropped a bit when I turned the page and there was no next chapter?) There are some pretty grisly things that would keep me from giving this to a younger child, but that's to be expected for a book set during the Holocaust. But anyway, it's an incredible story, and I'm glad I read it.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Candace Simar

    This book is about the fascinating life of two sisters who survive the holocaust by playing the piano under assumed names to escape being killed as jews. What a beautiful and hopeful story of musical gifts in the midst of war. I loved it.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Theresa

    Well-done story of Holocaust survivors from Ukraine, two piano prodigy sisters' amazing luck and resourcefulness, who ended up coming to the US through the generosity of an American soldier with a great love for music. All told by the son of Zhanna, the older sister. Well-done story of Holocaust survivors from Ukraine, two piano prodigy sisters' amazing luck and resourcefulness, who ended up coming to the US through the generosity of an American soldier with a great love for music. All told by the son of Zhanna, the older sister.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

    I was intrigued by the story of Jewish sisters and musical prodigies surviving the Holocaust by assuming fake names and performing for German soldiers. It was interesting to read about their experiences, growing up with music as a foundation of their lives, getting into a number of prestigious schools and performing opportunities. Then, to see how things changed in an instant and how the future - once promising and bright - became only nothing more than a question and a hope for survival as they I was intrigued by the story of Jewish sisters and musical prodigies surviving the Holocaust by assuming fake names and performing for German soldiers. It was interesting to read about their experiences, growing up with music as a foundation of their lives, getting into a number of prestigious schools and performing opportunities. Then, to see how things changed in an instant and how the future - once promising and bright - became only nothing more than a question and a hope for survival as they were forced to leave their home and became submerged in the horrors of the Holcaust. Despite the story that was there, I think it could have been much better written. The author, the son of the woman whose story is told, actually admits he wondered if his work as a newspaper column writer provided the experience necessary to pull off a book. I think he may have overestimated his success. All the elements for an engaging biography were there, but the storytelling part was really lacking. There were ridiculous grammatical errors ("four" instead of "for") that really anyone should have caught. A number of phrases were unnecessarily repeated as many as three times in different parts of the story, and the chronology was sometimes hard to follow, especially in the latter chapters as more stories crossed and backgrounds were given for each person.

  8. 4 out of 5

    J.M.

    I borrowed this from my mother, who received the book as a Christmas present. As far as Holocaust memoirs go, this one is pretty well-done. The writing flows nicely and the story really moves along. The book opens in Russia's Ukraine, which is a part of the war I hadn't read about previously. The girls in the book escape extermination in a mass grave at the edge of a ravine, where it is assumed the rest of their family dies (their father bribed a guard to look away when the eldest daughter ran; I borrowed this from my mother, who received the book as a Christmas present. As far as Holocaust memoirs go, this one is pretty well-done. The writing flows nicely and the story really moves along. The book opens in Russia's Ukraine, which is a part of the war I hadn't read about previously. The girls in the book escape extermination in a mass grave at the edge of a ravine, where it is assumed the rest of their family dies (their father bribed a guard to look away when the eldest daughter ran; it isn't explained how the youngest daughter survived). The girls were reunited and given false identities, which they kept throughout the war. Because both were brilliant musicians, eventually their talent caught the attention of the Germans occupying their city, and they were forced to perform for the very men who killed their parents. This is a tale of survival, struggle, and hope in the midst of great adversary, and a welcome addition to Holocaust literature that provides a different point of view from most of the books I've read on the subject. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in reading survival stories set during that dark period of history.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Mw

    I felt fortunate to find this book on a librarian's list.........otherwise I might have missed it. It succeeded for me on many levels: history, music, family ties, research, etc. I felt fortunate to find this book on a librarian's list.........otherwise I might have missed it. It succeeded for me on many levels: history, music, family ties, research, etc.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jean Graham

    This was Greg Dawson’s first book, to be followed by “Judgment Before Nuremberg” (reviewed earlier); while that book details Dawson’s pilgrimage to Kharkov to see where his mother and her sister had lived and where their parents and grandparents had perished (Drobitsky Yar), this one chronicles the incredible odyssey of survival experienced by Zhanna and Frina Arshanskaya as they journeyed from Kharkov through western Ukraine, to Berlin and many slave labor camps, and ultimately to Bavaria and t This was Greg Dawson’s first book, to be followed by “Judgment Before Nuremberg” (reviewed earlier); while that book details Dawson’s pilgrimage to Kharkov to see where his mother and her sister had lived and where their parents and grandparents had perished (Drobitsky Yar), this one chronicles the incredible odyssey of survival experienced by Zhanna and Frina Arshanskaya as they journeyed from Kharkov through western Ukraine, to Berlin and many slave labor camps, and ultimately to Bavaria and the United States – much of it under the assumed names of Anna and Marina Morozova; two Russian Jewish girls who used their musical talent to stay alive while “hiding in plain sight”. It can be compared in certain ways to the story of Fania Fénelon, who used her musical ability to stay alive in Auschwitz, as related in “Playing For Time”. What stands out for me, along with the all-too-well-known horrors of the Holocaust, here where it began in the fall of 1941, and which I need not go over again, is the incredible power of music to transcend barriers – those of ethnicity, nationality, religion, and ideology – and ultimately to save lives. Little did the sisters imagine that they would be playing before audiences of Wehrmacht troops and SS men on occupation duty in various Ukrainian towns; and later before larger groups of Czechs, Poles, Ukrainians, Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians in slave labor camps; and little did the Germans know that they were being entertained by Russian Jews – the very people Himmler and his ilk had vowed to exterminate. Yet it was the music of Chopin, Beethoven, Mozart, Scarlatti, and many others that brought them all together, at least for awhile – great testimony to music as a universal language – and enabled them to maintain the charade that kept them alive. Later on, after the sisters were able to come to the United States, both had distinguished careers as musical performers and teachers. The book was written in 2008. As of early 2019 Zhanna was still alive; I was unable to confirm Frina’s status. This is at least one Holocaust story with a happy ending, and shows how the United States immigration system, at its best, is supposed to work, opening the doors of our country to those who needed a place of refuge. If the sisters had been forced to return to Ukraine, as many Russian prisoners of war and DP’s were in 1945 and 1946, they would have probably been executed or sent to the Gulag, since Stalin viewed such people as traitors for having been imprisoned or captured and was afraid that they would reveal embarrassing information about the “workers’ paradise”. Thousands of unfortunates did suffer this fate; another testimony to the fact that communist systems always have to be maintained by fear, intimidation and terror since they simply do not work; the human spirit ultimately rebels against them. **** review by Chuck Graham ****

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kathy Barrett

    “Hiding In The Spotlight,” is a true story about child prodigy, Zhanna Arshanskaya Dawson and how she survives WWII after her parents are executed at Drobitsky Yar. Zhanna and her younger sister are children when they courageously take on new identities and make their way through occupied territory to gain shelter in an orphanage. The musical talent of the young sisters is discovered by a local piano tuner who presents them to a Nazi commander who insists they become a part of a troupe that perf “Hiding In The Spotlight,” is a true story about child prodigy, Zhanna Arshanskaya Dawson and how she survives WWII after her parents are executed at Drobitsky Yar. Zhanna and her younger sister are children when they courageously take on new identities and make their way through occupied territory to gain shelter in an orphanage. The musical talent of the young sisters is discovered by a local piano tuner who presents them to a Nazi commander who insists they become a part of a troupe that performs before German soldiers and officers. As the title of the book indicates, these two young sisters, take the stage each night living in fear that their Jewish identities will be exposed. Synchronicity brought this book to my attention as my husband, Andy Barrett studied with Zhanna Arshanskaya Dawson at Indiana University. My husband came upon a review of Zhanna’s book years later and was shocked to learn that Zhanna was a Holocaust survivor. Zhanna kept her story secret for over sixty years. Zhanna’s story is unique to other survivor stories. "Hiding In The Spotlight," is a must read for those interested and concerned about the state of our world today, history, WWII, tales of Holocaust survivors and those of you like me who enjoy reading about the triumph of the human spirit. The book is written by her son Greg Dawson, a journalist. After you’ve read “Hiding In The Spotlight,” listen to Zhanna’s story in her own words. I had the pleasure of interviewing Zhanna and her son Greg for my internet radio program. I highly recommend you you tune in to hear Zhanna on my show. She is remarkable. - http://www.blogtalkradio.com/behindth... For more information about Kathy Barrett go to http://www.gobehindthecurtain.com

  12. 5 out of 5

    Judith Leipold

    Just when you think not "another Holocaust story" comes one with a different twist. Moments before the execution of an entire family, a father exchanges his gold watch for the favor of a Nazi guard to look away as his daughters run. The children hear their father's last words to them. "Just live." Zhanna runs, hidden beneath her shirt is a copy of Chopin's "Fantasy Impromptu." This is the true story of two children surviving Stalin's Russia, the Ukranian winter, a death march to the Drobitsky Y Just when you think not "another Holocaust story" comes one with a different twist. Moments before the execution of an entire family, a father exchanges his gold watch for the favor of a Nazi guard to look away as his daughters run. The children hear their father's last words to them. "Just live." Zhanna runs, hidden beneath her shirt is a copy of Chopin's "Fantasy Impromptu." This is the true story of two children surviving Stalin's Russia, the Ukranian winter, a death march to the Drobitsky Yar, and the many atrocities found in Russia, Poland, and Germany. Their talent as musicians, along with their calm intellect provides a tenuous path through five years of war torn Europe. Most of their journey takes place in their Russian homeland, but with the Nazi retreat from Russia, the girls find themselves, captives heading into eye of the storm...Nazi Berlin. Aside from a great tale and the writings of Greg Dawson, shadow's of Chopin's piano works are "hidden" throughout the book. One wonders if Chopin, himself, wasn't the guardian angel who guided these girls to their musical triumph.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    Author Greg Dawson tells his mother's story which begins in Ukraine 1930s. She and her sister escaped certain death at Drobitsky Yar unlike their parents and grandparents. A series of kind and brave strangers as well as their musical talents lead them to ultimately survive the Holocaust as young teenage girls. The author admits knowing none of this history of his mother's life until his adult career had him ask her. She never mentioned it until then. There were a few editing mistakes that were anno Author Greg Dawson tells his mother's story which begins in Ukraine 1930s. She and her sister escaped certain death at Drobitsky Yar unlike their parents and grandparents. A series of kind and brave strangers as well as their musical talents lead them to ultimately survive the Holocaust as young teenage girls. The author admits knowing none of this history of his mother's life until his adult career had him ask her. She never mentioned it until then. There were a few editing mistakes that were annoying, but it's an overall compelling tale of the girls' grit, determination, bravery, and ultimate will to live. I can only take so much of man's inhumanity to man, and this memoir had just enough to set the scene and tone for those awful years. At one point the girls were part of an entertainment troupe who traveled from camp to camp. If there was no piano for them to play, the girls also played folks songs on their accordions!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Marcia Robinson

    I really learned a lot about the Ukriane Jewish population during the war. I liked the way the author incorporated thoughts from his mother in italics throughout the book. The Holocaust is not something I've read a lot about because I just don't have the stomach for the hatred and violence; it's mind-boggling to me. One of the things that shocked me the most was that Stalin's welcome home plan for those that fled during the war was to execute them once they returned to Russia. It took too long, I really learned a lot about the Ukriane Jewish population during the war. I liked the way the author incorporated thoughts from his mother in italics throughout the book. The Holocaust is not something I've read a lot about because I just don't have the stomach for the hatred and violence; it's mind-boggling to me. One of the things that shocked me the most was that Stalin's welcome home plan for those that fled during the war was to execute them once they returned to Russia. It took too long, but luckily, the rest of the world figured out what he was doing and stopped sending Russians back. I only gave 4 stars because the editing could have been tighter. There was a lot of repetition, and information about minor characters that were stumbling blocks because of its irrelevancy.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Rose-Billie Canter

    An inspiring read I just finished the last page of “Hiding in the Spotlight” and don’t want to lose any time in thanking the author, Greg Dawson, for a beautiful telling of his mother’s life. I also thank his mother, Zhanna Arshanskaya, for allowing her son to tell her story! As a student of Russian history, a student of classical piano, and a lover of literature, I was deeply moved by this book and will certainly recommend it to others. The descriptions of the performances in Russia, in Germany, a An inspiring read I just finished the last page of “Hiding in the Spotlight” and don’t want to lose any time in thanking the author, Greg Dawson, for a beautiful telling of his mother’s life. I also thank his mother, Zhanna Arshanskaya, for allowing her son to tell her story! As a student of Russian history, a student of classical piano, and a lover of literature, I was deeply moved by this book and will certainly recommend it to others. The descriptions of the performances in Russia, in Germany, and in the US brought tears to my eyes. Spasiba, Zhanna and Greg.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Stefanie Robinson

    This was a very good book about how a Jewish girl was able to escape the Nazi's and their death march. She began playing piano at a young age, and uses her talents on the piano to help her get through the war years. She was eventually adopted by and American soldier and became one of the first Jewish refugees to get a place in the Julliard School. I thought this story was moving and encouraging. I really enjoyed it. I own this book, but saw that it was available on Audible Plus, so I listened to This was a very good book about how a Jewish girl was able to escape the Nazi's and their death march. She began playing piano at a young age, and uses her talents on the piano to help her get through the war years. She was eventually adopted by and American soldier and became one of the first Jewish refugees to get a place in the Julliard School. I thought this story was moving and encouraging. I really enjoyed it. I own this book, but saw that it was available on Audible Plus, so I listened to it instead.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Laurie

    I highly recommend reading this book for the amazing story. However, know that the manuscript needed more editing. For instance, there are several times when exact sentences are repeated unnecessarily. A son wrote this book about his mother’s experience as a Jew during World War Two. It is an important story to tell, and I am glad I read his book. I just wish the finished product had been edited more carefully.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Bonnie

    Two Russian Jewish sisters who happen to be well-trained piano prodigies find their way to the safety of the Allies at the end of WWII remembering their father's wish to "stay alive" and their uncanny wits and fearlessness. The author unveils his mother's harrowing journey. The strength of the human spirit triumphs again. Two Russian Jewish sisters who happen to be well-trained piano prodigies find their way to the safety of the Allies at the end of WWII remembering their father's wish to "stay alive" and their uncanny wits and fearlessness. The author unveils his mother's harrowing journey. The strength of the human spirit triumphs again.

  19. 5 out of 5

    The Belle With the Books

    I cannot get enough of this book. Zhanna's story is so wonderful! Dawson carries you through as if you are right there. I even looked up Zhanna on YouTube and found a video of her playing Fantasie Impromptu. She is every bit as amazing as the book would have you believe. Very well written and easy to read. You're not going to want to put it down. I cannot get enough of this book. Zhanna's story is so wonderful! Dawson carries you through as if you are right there. I even looked up Zhanna on YouTube and found a video of her playing Fantasie Impromptu. She is every bit as amazing as the book would have you believe. Very well written and easy to read. You're not going to want to put it down.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Candace

    What an amazing story. The story of 2 girls surviving in WWII, one of whom was the author’s mother. The atrocities by the Nazi regime continue to stun me. This book brings much about the Russian experience that is not discussed in history classes. I enjoyed how the story was written- the Audible version was done well. Highly recommend!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Greta Benavides

    Marvelous journey into the salvation of music I have read many holocaust stories. This one by far reaches the soul on so many levels. The true loving nature of the arts pulls you through the darkest nightmares.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Spwalker1962

    I have ready many Holocaust survivor stories in the past because I have an interest in the subject and that time period in our history. This book is one of the best that I have read. It really touched me!! Incredible story! I highly recommend it!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Brooke Naef

    A great read It keeps you hooked wanting more answers! I could put it down and learn even more history of what it was like and the strength these girls had is amazing

  24. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Bell

    Such a good book! Literally could not put it down. Loved the history intermixed with the story.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    An incredible story of luck and fortitude and talent that saved these two sisters during WWII in Ukraine. It made me want to practice my piano more diligently.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ginny Erisman

    Biographical book by a local newspaper columnist about his mother, who survived the Holocaust. Great story, fascinating.

  27. 4 out of 5

    David

    Our Music Saved Us. This is a very interesting story of WW II told by two young women who used their musical skills to stay alive.

  28. 4 out of 5

    OjoAusana

    really interesting, wish it could have been longer!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Valerie

    Adults and teens. A different rendition of the Holocaust, war, survival and resiliency. Not like any other I’ve read and I’ve read many.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    This woman’s story is heartbreaking but a testament to the human spirit. At one point I just sobbed. I love the piano and love memoirs and this hit both chords.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.