Not all books are worth writing; this one assuredly is, because it tells how peace can happen, one heart at a time. It helps when the hearts beat in people of influence and talent. The hearts in question are, first, that of author Levine, a conductor, Brooklyn-born Jew, and son-in-law of a Holocaust survivor. The other heart? Polish-born Pope John Paul II, who may be headed to sainthood. Levine and the late pope became acquainted when the musician became the conductor of the Krakow Philharmonic in the heady days of the late 1980s, as the Iron Curtain slowly crumbled in Eastern Europe. Levine and the pope became spiritual friends, collaborating on papal-sponsored concerts of reconciliation intended to ease estrangement and pained history between Catholic Christians and Jews, and, post-September 11, among the three Abrahamic religions. This remarkable and little-known story deserves attention. (Oct.) (Publishers Weekly
, August 16, 2010)
"Talk about a baptism in fire. Levine is witty as he tells of his observations of Communist Poland, the intricacies of the Catholic Church, and his first glimpses of the Vatican… He strikes a dreamlike tone as he tells of how he and Pope John Paul II became friends." (The Buffalo News.com, March 20, 2011, by Mary Kunz Goldman)
From the Inside Flap
The Pope’s Maestro
tells the inspirational story of a most improbable friendship between the American conductor Sir Gilbert Levine and His Holiness Pope John Paul II. Together they collaborated closely, over a period of more than seventeen years, using music to heal centuries-old religious wounds.
Maestro Levine created and conducted a series of ground-breaking, internationally broadcast concerts that brought artistic form to Pope John Paul II’s fervent wish to forge an historic bridge first between the Roman Catholic Church and the Jewish people, and then, after 9/11, with the Muslim world as well. These efforts culminated in the Papal Concert to Commemorate the Holocaust in 1994 and the Papal Concert of Reconciliation in 2004.
During his years as music director [stet caps for Sir G’s preference] of the Kraków Philharmonic, Sir Gilbert had an insider’s view of Eastern Europe’s inexorable journey from Communism to freedom. And in the years following, he experienced the world of Pope John Paul in a way few lay people, and even fewer Jews, have ever been honored to do. That work, paradoxically enough, deepened Sir Gilbert’s own Jewish belief and practice .
The Pope’s Maestro tells the story of the compelling musical and spiritual journey of two men of different faiths who found in music the power to foster peace and unity in a profoundly divided world.