FROM BUCHENWALD TO CARNEGIE HALL

Marian Filar, Author, Charles Patterson, Joint Author . Univ. Press of Mississippi $29 (248p) ISBN 1-57806-419-8

This Holocaust memoir is striking not simply because it is a well-written account of incidents both remarkable and tragic, but because the survivor is a world-class concert pianist. The near-destruction of Filar's prodigious talent is a story that asks readers to contemplate what was lost in the Holocaust and through wider brutality. Born in 1917, the youngest of seven children in a musical family, Filar was a soloist prodigy with the Warsaw Philharmonic when he was 12. During his years of study at the State Conservatory of Music, there were hints "of the dark clouds on the horizon": professionals appreciated his skill but lamented his Jewishness. Then came the war and his first cattle-car deportation with other Warsaw Ghetto rebels who were marked for special cruelty. By 1943 he was an inmate-slave in a work camp when a prison guard severed a nerve in his finger; he went on to survive Majdanek and Bergen-Belsen by being "extremely lucky" and able to learn languages, make new friends and solicit help from old ones. By 1950, Filar was a refugee on a displaced person's ship passing the Statue of Liberty, and in 1952 he debuted at Carnegie Hall. His parents had been gassed at Treblinka, but Filar still derives great joy from music: "When I sit down at the piano," he writes, "I feel I am in heaven." (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 02/04/2002
Release date: 02/01/2002
Genre: Nonfiction
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