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Liszt's Dante Symphony: A Historical Thriller about the Arts & Deceptive Arts Paperback – June 8, 2011
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
"Author Rich DiSilvio delivers a tale of intrigue and mystery and takes his readers to another time and place in his novel Liszt's Dante Symphony. The story is set in the years preceding World War II and the author does a masterful job of bringing to life historical characters including Franz Liszt, Napoleon III and Albert Einstein. DiSilvio's command of history lends credibility to this work of historical fiction and leaves readers thinking; why couldn't it have happened that way? The author captures his readers with a brisk and intelligent writing style from the start as he weaves together the threads of a first class mystery in this well written story. I enjoyed Liszt's Dante Symphony and recommend it as a quick paced, thought provoking, enjoyable reading experience." - Michael Gandolfo, History Teacher, Florida --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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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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.
My name is Truby Chiaviello and I am the editor of PRIMO, A Magazine for and about Italian Americans. I found Rich DiSilvio's latest and most captivating work to be a novel of historic fiction "Liszt's Dante Symphony." DiSilvio's historical expertise was most evident in his ambitious book "The Winds of Time." Now comes a new chapter is his growth as an author. He utilizes his fertile mind of historical facts and anecdotes to add depth to what is a suspenseful and gripping tale in "Liszt's Dante Symphony."
DiSilvio's Italian heritage was front-and-center when he chose as his protagonists Angelo Di Purezza and his son Angelo, Jr. Father and son are strangers due in part from the elder's mysterious death. The plot centers on Angelo, Jr.'s search for truth and the discovery that Angelo, Sr. was a member of a group of spies, known as the Altar Eagles, led by the composer Franz Liszt. The goal of the group is to topple the rising war machine that is Prussia in the mid-1800s. Among other clandestine activities, Liszt conveys secret messages through his masterpiece "Dante's Symphony" to assist Napoleon III and Pope Pius IX to stop Bismarck's Prussia.
The novel moves forward and back in history from Europe in the early 1930s to Europe of the mid-1800s. As such, the story includes as its characters some of history's most famous players, besides Liszt, Italian composer Gioachino Rossini, illustrator Gustav Dore, composer Camille Saint-Saens, the always inspiring Albert Einstein, and the always diabolical Adolf Hitler.
DiSilvio's mastery of history comes through when he relays a scene where Hitler attends a performance of one of two parts of Liszt's Dante Symphony. He writes, "Evidently, Hitler found Liszt's `Purgatory' just as insufferable as the ludicrous concept of Purgatory itself, and the staunch atheist almost dozed off."
DiSilvio's knowledge of history seems matched by his knowledge of music as he writes about overlooked shortcomings of Italy's musical accomplishments.
"It was 1866 and Italy had been almost a vacuum in regards to professional musical performances, save, of course, for Italian opera. Despite being musical innovators in so many ways (having bequeathed to the world the inventions of the violin, cello, piano and other instruments, as well as instating Italian as the official language of musical notation), Italians only focused on opera, religious chorals or street songs. There were no symphony orchestras, salons or concert halls..."
"Liszt's Dante Symphony" is a novel that is best read by Italian Americans who will appreciate the heroic feats of two main characters who are Italian and the inclusion of historical details on not only Rome but of Europe that owes much to Italy. DiSilvio is praised for penning a novel that is as entertaining as it is informative. Be sure to include "Liszt's Dante Symphony" on your Christmas reading list.
Most recent customer reviews
Author: Rich DiSilvio
Published By: DV Books
Age Recommended: 4
Reviewed By: Kitty Bullard
Raven Rating: 4...Read more