Hiding in the Spotlight: A Musical Prodigys Story of Survival, 1941-1946


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Write a customer review. Read reviews that mention greg dawson true story hiding in the spotlight zhanna and frina well written book club united states world war highly recommend orlando sentinel jewish people false identities story of survival even though amazing story holocaust survivor wonderful book well worth piano prodigies put the book.

There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later. This fine memoir recounts the odyssey of Zhanna Arshanskaya and her sister, Frina. A true labor of love, it was written by Greg Dawson, Zhanna's son, and a long-time columnist for the Orlando Sentinel newspaper. Born in , Zhanna, the author's mother, was the older of two sisters.

The girls' parents were Dmitri and Sara Arshansky, non-religious Jews who were raising a young family in Berdyansk, Ukraine, a resort town on the northern coast of the Sea of Avov. Dmitri, the father, was a candy-maker by day and an amateur violinist by night. Passionate about music, he had high aspirations for his two girls. His early dreams were fulfilled. By the time she was six years old, Zhanna, a prodigy at the piano, was occasionally playing live on local radio.

One such performance revealed the level of her skill and poise. As Zhanna played at the radio station, the lights in the studio suddenly went out.

A Musical Prodigy's Story of Survival, 1941-1946

But there was no break in the music. Dmitri had always insisted that his daughter not only memorize a number, but that she never so much as look at her hands when she played. Anytime she learned a new piece, her father required Zhanna to perform it with the lights out. For her, a flawless recital in the dark was nothing unusual. But with the Stalinist crack-down in the Soviet Union, followed by the Holocaust, the blissful lives of the Arshanskys were changed forever. Hiding in the Spotlight tells the story of how Zhanna and Frina survived the mass execution of more than 15, Jews at Drobitsky Yar in December , when their parents and grandparents were murdered; how they went on to become, of all things, German-sponsored entertainers living in Berlin, literally next door to the Nazis who had marked them and all "their kind" for death; and how, eventually, they became scholarship students at the Julliard School in New York after the War was over.

The Nazi regime murdered nearly 6 million Jews. This is the story of two Jewish girls who survived not in a camp or a cellar, but in the spotlight. One person found this helpful. What a wonderful story! A hard story, a painful story but Wonderful. I would never have known about this extraordinary woman had it not been for a chance meeting with one of her students. The former student is a 'Storyteller Extraordinaire' and my wife and I were quite sure that he was embellishing and exaggerating the story of Jana Dawson. How wrong we were. Quite a remarkable story of survival another holocaust terror , triumph of the human spirit, brute and stubborn determination and courage.

Also, it would seem, very Honest and direct. No trumpeting or calling of a human being a haloed saint. I can't recommend it highly enough. Congratulations to her son for writing what must have been a painful and frustrating epic journey of discovering the full story of his Mother! A pianist myself and an avid reader of the holocaust I knew this would be an interesting book.


  1. Übersetzerbau: Band 2: Syntaktische und semantische Analyse (eXamen.press) (German Edition).
  2. Hiding in the Spotlight: A Musical Prodigy's Story of Survival, by Greg Dawson.
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But the level of skill and talent of Greg Dawson as a writer brings this story to a level, the likes of which I have not expected. No adjectives or superlatives can adequately describe the courage, the inspiration, the super-human talent and grace of Zhanna during her ordeal I first heard of Zhanna on a CNN interview and then listened to an audio clip of her playing Chopin's Fantasy Impromptu her signature piece. As a pianist, her performance reveals breathtaking virtuosity and is worthy of all the acolades noted in rave reviews of her playing by critics who heard her play.

What she and her sister endured and experienced is really hard to actually believe You sense this is a true story that must be told!

I only hope someone makes a movie of her life This book is an incredible story about two young girls' triumph over death, evil, and the worst possible adversities one could possibly face in life. I found myself engrossed in the story from page one and could not put the book down. Besides creating a strong sense of empathy for the author's mother and her journey to freedom, the book provides a blunt and realistic picture of the evils of Hitler and his forces towards the Jewish people. This was my first real exposure to the atrocities of the Holocaust, and I will never again look at it the same.

This is one of those "life-changing" books that leaves you a different person after reading it--and one that you want to share with so many. As a pianist myself, I will never again take for granted the opportunities I have to learn, play, and respect great music, and I have a new appreciation for how that music can literally change lives for good. I ordered this book after hearing an interview on NPR with the author, who is also the subject's son. He was unaware of his mother's story until he was in his fifties.

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Besides being true, her story is captivating, in how she survived World War ll as a young teenager in occupied Russia. The history of how Stalin was as much an enemy of his Jewish citizens as the Nazis was new information to me.

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Hiding In Spotlight, Jewish Pianist Survived WWII : NPR

She and her sister were gifted musicians, and used this talent to survive. The old adage about "choosing one path over another can completely change your life" is spelled out many times during their adventure. Her courage, wits and luck all contributed to their eventual safety. One amusing portion describes how an American Army colonel, running a refugee camp decides to mentor her after hearing her play the piano.

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Armed with a rudimentery knowledge of music he took upon himself to give her lessons. This, for a girl who had given public concerts at age six and had been accepted into the prestigious Moscow Conservancy of Music! This is an enthralling and uplifting read which I finished in one seating. See all 81 reviews. Most recent customer reviews. Published 4 months ago. Published 7 months ago.

Hiding in the Spotlight

Published 9 months ago. Published 1 year ago. Published on August 25, Published on April 19, Published on February 18, Published on October 16, Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Greg is currently a columnist for The Orlando Sentinel. He lives with his wife in Orlando. 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 Hiding in the Spotlight: A Musical Prodigy's Story of Survival, Zhanna, a young Jewish girl from Ukraine, also happens to be a gifted piano prodigy and is giving concerts by the age of six.

Hiding in the Spotlight: A Musical Prodigys Story of Survival, 1941-1946 Hiding in the Spotlight: A Musical Prodigys Story of Survival, 1941-1946
Hiding in the Spotlight: A Musical Prodigys Story of Survival, 1941-1946 Hiding in the Spotlight: A Musical Prodigys Story of Survival, 1941-1946
Hiding in the Spotlight: A Musical Prodigys Story of Survival, 1941-1946 Hiding in the Spotlight: A Musical Prodigys Story of Survival, 1941-1946
Hiding in the Spotlight: A Musical Prodigys Story of Survival, 1941-1946 Hiding in the Spotlight: A Musical Prodigys Story of Survival, 1941-1946
Hiding in the Spotlight: A Musical Prodigys Story of Survival, 1941-1946 Hiding in the Spotlight: A Musical Prodigys Story of Survival, 1941-1946

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