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The Lost Cellos of Lev Aronson Hardcover – July 27, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Atlas (July 27, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1934633119
  • ISBN-13: 978-1934633113
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 5.2 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #296,606 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Frances Brent’s wonderful book movingly allows Lev Aronson’s Lost Cellos to sing again of dark times and profound yearning.” (Elie Wiesel, author of Night)

“By following the interconnected fates of an eminent musician and his cherished cello during the Holocaust, Frances Brent gives us new insight into both the human horror and the material plunder at the heart of the Nazi project. A graceful book about a dark history, The Lost Cellos of Lev Aronson illuminates the deep bonds between artists and their instruments, the rich musical life of interwar Central Europe, and the power of music to sustain the spirit in the face of extremity.” (Eva Hoffmann, author of Appassionata)

“A moving coda to a period that continues to astonish us, The Lost Cellos of Lev Aronson must be read by anyone who cares about history and loves music.” (Kati Marton, author of The Great Escape: Nine Jews Who Fled Hitler and Changed the World)

“Starred Review. Poet and translator Brent (The Beautiful Lesson of the I) gives readers a beautifully meditative account of a Holocaust survivor and cellist, Lev Aronson, and the musical instruments that were like soul mates to him—especially his prized Amati cello, which was taken from him during the war. Aronson was confined to the Riga ghetto and later the Stutthof concentration camp in Poland, but this is not an account of his experiences. Instead, it is Brent's meditation on the fate of music, musicians, and their instruments during dark times. It is also, in a way, a mystery, as Brent investigates what may have happened to the confiscated cello.” (Paul Kaplan - Library Journal)

“Frances Brent gives us a moving account of Aronson’s experience—through war and peace—and a nuanced ­appreciation of his musical gifts.” (The Wall Street Journal)

About the Author

Frances Brent was the co-translator of Beyond the Limit: Poems by Irina Ratushinsakya. Her book of poetry, The Beautiful Lesson of the I, was the winner of the May Swenson Award. She lives in New Haven, Connecticut.

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Customer Reviews

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See all 9 customer reviews
Had no idea how bad till I read this fabulous book.
Charles Cleaver
This wonderful slim volume gives Mr. Aronson a posthumous voice for his pain, frustration and imcomprehension of the ordeal he endured during the Shoah.
Isaiah D. Cooper
I've been reading Holocaust-related books (fiction, history, memoirs) for 45 years and it is such a thrill for a book to be a discovery.
shanarufus

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Gofrillier on January 21, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I was a student of Lev's when I was 12 years old and lived in Dallas, Texas. He actually picked-out my first cello for me, which he demonstrated to my parents while in his pajamas and bathrobe! He was so much more than a music teacher, he was a teacher of life. There are so many stories and interesting things the author could have included in this book but didn't. I'm not sure if the author spoke to many of Lev's former students about their experiences with Lev, but she should have done a little more digging. It could have turned this flimsy paper-back into something more meaninful.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By lydia03 on November 28, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"The Lost Cellos" tells a fascinating and moving story, but ultimately is a disappointing book.

The author chooses to tell the moving story of Aronson - a Latvian cellist - who because he was Jewish had his beloved Amati cello confiscated from him at the beginning of the Nazi occupation of Latvia and ultimately was sent to various camps and lost his family in what we now know today as the Holocaust.

The story of what became of Aronson - who does survive the horrors of the Holocaust - and ultimately ends up in the U.S., where he became the principal cellist in the Dallas Symphony, is told in a sketchy, episodic manner.
Even if Brent had told Aronson's story in a more coherent way, we still only have half the story.

Brent alludes to the post WW II survival and existence of the Latvian cellist who was the immediate recipient of Aronson's confiscated Amati, yet no attempt was made to trace either he or the contemporary musician who may be his son. So we are ultimately left with the mystery of what happened to Aronson's beloved Amati.

Aronson died in 1988, so no amount of investigation on Brent's part could have ever restored the Amati to its rightful owner, but it would have tied the story together if Ms. Brent had at least made a serious effort to find out what happened to the instrument.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Samuel Woodward on July 22, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
While morbidly fascinating,this book reveals little of Lev Aronson's life post WW II and the resumption of his career in Dallas, Texas. No mention is made of his paintings depicting character studies of elderly jews, nor does it give real details of his personality and interactions with colleague musicians and his less favored students.

As a chronicle of anti-semitic brutality, the book is rich in detail and evokes great sympathy and compassion for the horrors that Aronson endured. As a former student of Aronson, I appreciate the insight that the author brings to her subject. Aronson remains an enigma, for he could be as magnanimous as he was at times cruel.

For a then impressionable adolescent, Lev Aronson was larger than life and a heroic exponent of the 'cello in all its range of expression.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By shanarufus on August 3, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Really loved the book. Lev Aronson, born in Germany but raised in Latvia, travels the capitals of Europe as a young man studying under and playing with the greatest musicians of his time. Berlin, Prague, Paris, Florence. He speaks 6 or 7 languages--Russian, Yiddish, Lett, German, French, English. Alfred Rosenberg was to stolen instruments what Goebbels was to stolen art and Aronson's irreplaceable Amati cello is taken by the Germans. And so is Lev Aronson.

Throughout the slim volume (can be read in one thrilling reading) Brent gives us morsels of musical lore, medieval history, interesting mini-biographies of composers and virtuoso musicians. But really the book is about the details of survival. Luck, youth, finding the occasional musician in the labor camps and how these friendships sustained him. How music sustained him even tho there was no cello. But always, luck.

I've been reading Holocaust-related books (fiction, history, memoirs) for 45 years and it is such a thrill for a book to be a discovery. Frances Brent is a wonderful writer and the last 20 pages are notes, footnotes, references and sources that are in themselves really interesting and informative.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Isaiah D. Cooper on August 5, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I heard Frances Brent speak about and read from The Lost Cellos of Lev Aronson The Lost Cellos of Lev Aronson in New Haven and had to buy it. I am a former professional trombonist who has lived with and loved a cellist. As a trombonist I also played a great deal of cello music. This wonderful slim volume gives Mr. Aronson a posthumous voice for his pain, frustration and imcomprehension of the ordeal he endured during the Shoah. Though he achieved significant success as the principal cellist of the Dallas Symphony and as a teacher after the war, his dreams of becoming a major soloist like his teachor, Gregor Piatagorsky, were destroyed by the Nazis. He lost so much, but continued to create new relationships and new opportunities even in the middle of the horror. Ms. Brent brings so much of his experiences to life and gives life to his own words in a wonderful, straightforward way. Bravo!
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