Weinberg's fate is worthy of a dramatic novel. He was born in Warsaw to a Jewish family. His father was a well-known composer and conductor of the Yiddish theatre, he moved to Poland from Chisinau, where some of his relatives were killed during the Chisinau pogrom. His mother came from Odessa and was an actress.
Weinberg started a brilliant career as a pianist in Warsaw but in 1939 he had to flee the Nazi occupation. His entire family - parents and younger sister Esther - died in one of the concentration camps in 1943.
In the Soviet Union Weinberg first settled in Minsk, then - when the WWII came to the Soviet territory - moved to Tashkent and in 1943 - thanks to Shostakovich - to Moscow. "It was as if I had been born anew", - Weinberg said of his meeting with Shostakovich. Another very important meeting took place in Tashkent: the composer met his future wife, the daughter of Solomon Mikhoels, a great actor and a leader of the State Jewish Theatre and Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee. A few years later, Mikhoels will be murdered on Stalin's personal order and his cousin Miron Vovsi will become one of the main defendants in the so-called "Doctors' plot". And the composer himself did not escape prison.
Not surprisingly, Weinberg's music is marked by a tragic sound and is permeated with Jewish and Polish intonations.