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Alice's Piano: The Life of Alice Herz-Sommer Hardcover – March 13, 2012


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Alice's Piano: The Life of Alice Herz-Sommer + A Century of Wisdom: Lessons from the Life of Alice Herz-Sommer, the World's Oldest Living Holocaust Survivor + Everything is a Present: The Wonder & Grace of Alice Sommer Hertz
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press (March 13, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250007410
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250007414
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #243,080 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Most moving is the story throughout of her loving bond with her son and how she saved him. No politics, intolerance, or self-righteousness, no talk of revenge, always the rigor and joy of music.”--Booklist (Starred Review)

 

“A miraculous journey of mother and son for whom music provided strength and nourishment.”--Kirkus Reviews

 

About the Author

MELISSA MÜLLER is an author and journalist living in Munich. Her collaboration with Traudl Junge became an international bestseller. She is also the author of Anne Frank: The Biography.
REINHARD PIECHOCKI is the author of a number of works of cultural history and a close friend of Alice Herz-Sommer’s for many years.
ALICE HERZ-SOMMER, at 107 years old, is the oldest living Holocaust survivor. She lives in London.


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Customer Reviews

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Interesting and well written.
Builder Lady
One of the best books I've had the pleasure of reading.
Elizabeth Trachtman
Alice's Piano was written very well.
Coleen

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Margaret Shannon on March 23, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Once again, the Austrian author and journalist Melissa Mueller has shown she is one of the leading chroniclers of the Holocaust in the generation of writers born well after World War II. Alice's Piano: The life of Alice Herz-Sommer stands alongside her bestselling Biography of Anne Frank (1998) and her riveting account of Traudl Junge's last days as Hitler's secretary, Until the Final Hour (2003), which became number one on the German bestseller list.
Alice's Piano was first published in English as The Garden of Eden in Hell, 2006, and remains the only biography authorized by the great Czech pianist herself. Mueller recounts Alice's early life, musical studies, marriage, and then deportation to Thereizenstadt, the Nazi propaganda camp where she performed concerts. Mueller's immersion in the lives of Anne Frank and Traudl Junge has given her extraordinary insight into the mindless bureaucracy and cruelty of the Hitler's willing collaborators. What makes Mueller's thoroughly researched account rise to the level of genius, however, is how she intersperses throughout the book Sommer's musical analysis of each of Frédéric Chopin's Twenty-Four Etudes, which Alice believed saved her from certain death in the camp. The incipit of each Etude is printed on the page. The result, especially to this musician-reader, is a stunningly emotional evocation of the great tragedy of Thereizenstadt: the extermination of generations of composers, conductors, opera singers, instrumentalists, and actors, who happened to be Jewish.
That Alice Herz-Sommer remained sane, resumed teaching and performing, and continues to see life as good at the age of 108 makes her story must reading for anyone who cares about life, about music, and about forgiveness.
--Margaret Shannon, Washington, DC
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By SMS on April 25, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Have you ever had the opportunity to read a book and not want to reach the end? Well that has been my experience with Alice's Piano, The Story of Alice Hrez-Sommer. It is truly a magnificent historical read with a striking interest building element for a classical piano lover. Without giving away the story, it provides the the meaning and moods of Chopin's 24 etudes with grace and style while combining these moods with significant vignettes of essential characters depicted throughout the story's plot! It also illustrates how Alice's loving, embracement of music has allowed her to continue her survival as the "oldest living Holocaust survivor."
I highly recommend this book...it is unfogetably magnificent...!
SMS
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Alter Wiener on April 1, 2012
Format: Hardcover
In 1942, The Germans mislead the outside world, especially observers from the International Red Cross, by presenting Theresienstadt concentration camp as a normal town. In an ostensible autonomous environment the Germans allowed the prisoners to organize their own cultural activities. Among the prisoners were hundreds of famous Jewish musicians. In July 1943, Alice Hertz-Sommer, born in 1903 into a Jewish, German-speaking family in Prague, her husband Leopold and son Stephan (later changed to Raphael), age six, were deported to Theresienstadt. Alice was given there a chance to give recitals for a little extra food. This amazing lady was imbued with a strong will to survive and to protect her child. She was enraptured with music and clung to her principles, to be hopeful and focus on the positive.

Melissa Muller and Reinhard Piechocki, the biographers narrate Alice's prodigious talent and feelings in the book ALICE'S PIANO. In Theresienstadt many people were dying of infectious diseases. Bugs, fleas and lice were never defeated, the inmates were defeated. However, when Alice practiced she forgot about the world around her. She played from passion and sheer joy in music; it was her door to paradise. Music has been her source of strength all her life, her safe haven. As the defeat for Germany drew nearer in 1944, most "residents" from Theresienstadt were sent to extermination camps. Alice's husband was among those. After the war, Alice found out that her husband had survived the death-march from Auschwitz to Dachau, but died there of typhus. In May 1945 Theresienstadt was liberated, one out of one hundred inmates survived. It is heartbreaking to realize that among the millions that the Nazis murdered there were so many talented people.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Honey on January 22, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I enjoyed the book but think those with a classical music background would enjoy it more with mention of so many famous musicians & composers. I am always interested in stories about people who survive bitter circumstances and chose to live life with such optimism. Alice has certainly lived an amazing life, filled with goals, determination and love. She has so much to teach us all.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Linda Paschall Stoltz on July 14, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a very touching story, glad that I read the book. It does contain a lot of musical descriptions, technical aspects of playing the piano that a musical person would like, little too much for a person with little playing experience; however, you can skip over and still enjoy the story.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Benjamin R. Barnard on February 14, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a great book about a most unusual lady. Cannot conceive of her generosity of spirit in the face of much wrong. Everyone can learn from this outstanding human being..
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