While the Music Played

Nathaniel Lande. Blackstone, $29.99 (528p) ISBN 978-1-9826-3233-5
Lande’s gripping debut entwines a complex set of relationships brought together by music and disrupted by the Nazis. In Prague just before WWII, 12-year-old Max Mueller, a precocious piano tuner, and his father, Viktor, the conductor of the Czech Philharmonic, are not directly affected by the pervasive anti-Semitism in Europe, as they aren’t Jewish. But Max’s pianist girlfriend, Sophie, and his best friend, David Grunewald, an aspiring journalist, are, and the next six years pass in increasing horror as Sophie’s father is taken by soldiers and Viktor’s composer friend Hans Krasa protests the German occupation. After Gen. Reinhard Heydrich recruits Viktor to be his personal secretary in the German Army, Max is mortified, unaware that Viktor is a loyal member of the Resistance. Things reach a critical stage when Heydrich begins to transfer children to the Terezin concentration camp, which Hitler calls “a gift to the Jews.” It is anything but that, and David, Hans, and Sophie fear for their lives when transports to Auschwitz begin. Lande describes the Nazis’ appreciation for music in stark irony, as Max’s initial respect for a camp commandant’s perfect pitch turns to horror when he learns of the gas chambers. This is a fine addition to the shelf of WWII fiction. (May)
Reviewed on : 01/17/2020
Release date: 05/01/2020
Genre: Fiction
MP3 CD - 978-1-9826-3185-7
Compact Disc - 978-1-9826-3184-0
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