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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The only authorized biography of Alice Herz-Sommer
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,...
Published on March 23, 2012 by Margaret Shannon

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Alice's Piano: The life of Alice Herz-Sommer
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...
Published 7 months ago by Honey


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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The only authorized biography of Alice Herz-Sommer, March 23, 2012
This review is from: Alice's Piano: The Life of Alice Herz-Sommer (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
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent Read, April 25, 2012
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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
5.0 out of 5 stars inspiring, informing and heartwarming, April 1, 2012
By 
Alter Wiener (Hillsboro OR U.S.A.) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Alice's Piano: The Life of Alice Herz-Sommer (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.

Alice and Stephan were able to return to Prague. After the Communist takeover of Czechoslovakia in 1948, Alice decided to move with her son to Israel, where she was to live for the next 37 years where her musical career as performer and teacher continued.

I have been sharing my life story as a Holocaust survivor with live audiences and readers of my autobiography From a Name to a Number. One of the most frequent questions addressed to me is:"what kept you going in Nazi camps, what keeps you alive today at the age of 86?" My answer is that I don't have a clear cut answer, perhaps just luck. I wanted to survive the Holocaust in order to be reunited with my family. Today, I am assuming that my longevity may be attributed to my lifestyle (a vegetarian, a teetotaler a nonsmoker) Alice's love for music and faith in humanity kept her going. Since the end of the war she has been playing the piano, entertaining till this very day, at age of 108.
Being incarcerated for three years in five different camps in Nazi Germany, I had no idea about the existence of Theresienstadt. From ALICE'S PIANO I learned the intricacies and horrors of that "Model" camp. The book is inspiring, informing and heartwarming; highly recommendable.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Alice's Piano: The life of Alice Herz-Sommer, January 22, 2014
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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
4.0 out of 5 stars Music, July 14, 2013
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This review is from: Alice's Piano: The Life of Alice Herz-Sommer (Hardcover)
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book, February 14, 2014
By 
Benjamin R. Barnard (Excelsior, MN United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Alice's Piano: The Life of Alice Herz-Sommer (Hardcover)
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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5.0 out of 5 stars one of the best I have ever read, August 22, 2014
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This review is from: Alice's Piano: The Life of Alice Herz-Sommer (Hardcover)
An absolutely stunning book, one of the best I have ever read. One of the things that I liked the most was that the forward of the book is written by Alice . I was so pleased that she mentioned being in touch with Zdenka Fantlova who she knew from Theresienstadt. Zdenka was a dancer and a very musical person. She also mentions a visit from Anita Lasker-Walfisch a cellist from the women's orchestra at Auschwitz. Both of these women wrote about their Holocaust experiences which I have read. A wonderful read about a very inspiring woman and her remarkable life.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great Book, February 2, 2014
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This review is from: Alice's Piano: The Life of Alice Herz-Sommer (Hardcover)
You get the see the times through the eyes of a young girl which makes her story come to life.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Alice's Piano, July 31, 2013
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This review is from: Alice's Piano: The Life of Alice Herz-Sommer (Hardcover)
Alice's Piano was written very well. It added history with a personal touch. I really believed the feelings of those who were living in such a horrendous time. The fact that there were good things along with the atrocities made it believable.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deeply moving, July 21, 2013
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The resiliency of the human spirit has never been expressed so eloquently. What a testament to the ministry of music.
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Alice's Piano: The Life of Alice Herz-Sommer
Alice's Piano: The Life of Alice Herz-Sommer by Melissa Müller (Hardcover - March 13, 2012)
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