Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction and Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel and post Colonial Asian Fiction are some of my Literary Interests





Saturday, January 28, 2017

Violins of Hope: Violins of the Holocaust-Instruments of Hope and Liberation in Mankind's Darkest Hour by James A. Grymes (2014)

My Post in Observation of International Holocaust Day






My 2016 Post for International Holocaust Remembrance Day


Last year in honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day I posted on Ravensbruck:  Life and Death in Hitler's Concentration Camp for Women by Sarah Helm.  In observation of this year's event I wish to let my readers know of a wonderful book, the winner of the 2015 Jewish Book of the Year Award, Violins of Hope:  Violins of the Holocaust-Instruments of Hope and Liberation in Mankind's Darkest Hour by James A. Grymes.


International Holocaust Day is an observation of the six million Jews who were murdered during the Holocaust.  The Holocaust can be seen in many ways.  I have posted on a number of Holocaust related works as well as classic works of Yiddish literature.  I see the Holocaust as a war on the reading life.  Never has there been a culture more dedicated to the absorption of the written war than that of Central European and Russian Jews.  First the Nazis burned their books, then their bodies.  There is no totalitarian group in the world that is not Anti-Semitic.  Being anti- Jewish and Anti-Semitic should be understood as related but separate things, both repugnant.   To me the Holocaust is made somehow personal by the death at 42 of one of my most beloved authors, Irene Nemirovsky who died a month after arriving at Auschwitz.

This is my second year posting in observation of this day.  Not just Jews died in the Holocaust and I hope one day there will be a greater awareness of this.

Violins of the Holocaust-Instruments of Hope and Liberation in Mankind's Darkest Hour by James A. Grymes tells the story the violins played by Jewish musicians during the Holocaust.  He writes in a very illuminating fashion about the importance of the violin in Central and Eastern European Jewish culture.  The book focuses on the twenty years the famous Israeli violin restorer Annon Weinstein spent working on these violins.  Grymes tells the story, some of survival aided by the violins and some of death of the men who played them.  Along the way we learn of the genesis of classical music in Israel.

I found this a fascinating and a deeply moving book from which my understanding of the Holocaust as expanded.

James A. Grymes is an internationally respected musicologist, a critically acclaimed author, and a dynamic speaker who has addressed audiences at significant public venues such as Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. Dr. Grymes has been featured in interviews by the New York Times, ABC News, and CNN, and has written essays for the Huffington Post and the Israeli music magazine Opus.
He is the author of Violins of Hope: Instruments of Hope and Liberation in Mankind’s Darkest Hour(Harper Perennial, 2014). A stirring testament to the strength of the human spirit and the power of music, Violins of Hope tells the remarkable stories of violins played by Jewish musicians during the Holocaust, and of the Israeli violinmaker dedicated to bringing these inspirational instruments back to life. Violins of Hope is the winner of the 2014 National Jewish Book Award in the Holocaust category.
Dr. Grymes is Professor of Musicology and Chair of the Department of Music at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He is represented by John Rudolph of Dystel & Goderich Literary Management. From jamesagrymes.com

Mel u








Not just Jews were murdered in the Holocaust, about 300,000 Roma people were killed as well as many Jehovah's Witnesses were also murdered.  Holocaust like events did not begin in the 20th century. (I highly recommend Late Victorian Holocausts by Mike Davis)nor did they end there.  

Understanding the Holocaust is necessary to understand contemporary events.  There is not a major terrorist group in the world that is not strongly anti-Semetic.  In the call of the incoming American president to have Muslims wear special ids and be listed on a nationwide data base we see the mentality behind the holocaust beginning.  

1 comment:

Suko said...

Mel,this is an excellent post for International Holocaust Remembrance Day, that underscores the role of violins. Thank you.