- Paperback: 250 pages
- Publisher: Digital Vista, Incorporated (June 8, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0981762530
- ISBN-13: 978-0981762531
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 21 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,690,380 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Liszt's Dante Symphony: A Historical Thriller about the Arts & Deceptive Arts Paperback – June 8, 2011
The Amazon Book Review
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About the Author
Rich DiSilvio is an author of both fiction and nonfiction. He has written books, historical articles and commentaries for magazines and online resources. His historical tome on Western civilization, “The Winds of Time”, has received accolades from professors, journalists and the general public. DiSilvio personally pioneered and programmed the first interactive CD-ROM learning software for autism in 1999, the Autism Academy, which offered an ABA program. DiSilvio’s work in the music and entertainment industries includes commentaries on the great composers, while his artwork and new media advertisements have graced the projects of many star celebrities and supergroups, such as Cher, Pink Floyd, Yes, Moody Blues, John Lennon, Willy Nelson, Jewel, Sheryl Crow and many others. He has also worked on special interest projects, such as "Killing Hitler", "The Lost Tomb of Jesus" and others.
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The introduction of the beautiful female secretary was a pretty bad piece of hackneyed sexism. The description focused intensely on her physical charms, in lurid, almost smutty detail.
The plot depended a little too much on vast coincidences. Our hero "just happens" to meet the right people at the right time. He doesn't so much solve mysteries as have the solutions fall, plop, into his lap.
That said...it's a fun bit of a story! It moves nicely, and the construction, set in two different time periods, works very well. The villains are villainous, and the hero is heroic. The author's love of music is clearly communicated to the reader, and, after reading, one really must find a way to obtain the Liszt Symphony of the title. (I did, and was delighted!) The story's moral and dramatic senses are excellent and elegant. It is only the writing style that is a trifle naïve, much as if this were DiSilvio's first novel. (Wikipedia suggests it's actually his second.)
Overall the characters were likeable and often their actions were completely reasonable given the situations they found themselves in. The action was paced but had some slow parts, but doesn’t every book?
It may seem that Liszt is an unusual choice to focus on, as there are other, more recognizable names that could make a connection with a readership that, like myself, may be largely ignorant of the world of classical music. However, the author’s admiration for Franz Liszt jumps off the pages and it soon becomes clear why Liszt is vital to the story.
The eponymous Dante Symphony is an actual composition of Franz Liszt; the musical embodiment of Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy. It is not possible to read this novel and not want to listen to this musical score. To entice a reader into expanding their horizons and experiencing something new is a great accomplishment. That alone makes this book a success.
But Liszt’s Dante Symphony goes beyond that. The Divine Comedy describes Dante’s fictional travels through Hell, Purgatory, and ultimately Paradise. It is an allegory of the soul’s journey toward God. Liszt’s Dante Symphony describes the separate travels of a father and son in a world each saw degenerating into a version of Hell on Earth. For the father, it was the expansion of German unification under Prussian King Wilhelm I leading to the Franco-Prussian War. For the son, it was the rise of Adolph Hitler and the Nazi Party leading to World War II.
The father, Angelo Di Purezza Sr., was a student of Franz Liszt, with a shared political ideology. They, along with a small band of compatriots, conspired to embed secret codes in the musical scores of Liszt’s Dante Symphony to aid Emperor Napoleon III of France in efforts to curtail the German expansion. These slightly altered scores would be sent to the conductors of symphonies in various cities to transmit the encoded messages. These actions put their lives in danger.
The son, Angelo Di Purezza Jr., grew up without his father, believing him murdered by his enemies. His father was holding a copy of the Dante Symphony when he died and Angelo Jr. believes this to be relevant. Now grown and working as a mathematician at the Kaiser Institute in Berlin, Angelo seeks to uncover secrets he believes are contained within the musical score that will aid him in tracking down the killer. Simultaneously, Hitler and the Nazi Party are rising to power and leading Germany, and the rest of the world, to war.
Liszt’s Dante Symphony left me wanting more. To me that is a sign of a successful novel. How Liszt embedded secret codes into various scores of his Dante Symphony is alluded to, but never actually demonstrated. All that was missing was the details of an actual mission that originated from the transmission of these messages and its resulting impact. Though, I do realize that would be tangential to what I believe to be the father-and-son core of this story.
Liszt’s Dante Symphony is the story of a father and son; each in their own era witnessing a world degenerating into death and war. It is the story of their travels through these worlds, and their efforts to manifest that allegorical “journey toward God”. Historical fiction at its finest.