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Jeremy Eichler at the Brattle Theatre
The Second World War,
the Holocaust, and the Music of Remembrance
in conversation with YO-YO MA
Harvard Book Store welcomes JEREMY EICHLER—chief classical music critic for The Boston Globe—for a discussion of his new book Time’s Echo: The Second World War, the Holocaust, and the Music of Remembrance. He will be joined in conversation by world-renowned cellist YO-YO MA.
Tickets include admission for one and one hardcover copy of Time’s Echo signed by the author.
About Time’s Echo
In 1785, when the great German poet Friedrich Schiller penned his immortal “Ode to Joy,” he crystallized the deepest hopes and dreams of the European Enlightenment for a new era of peace and freedom, a time when millions would be embraced as equals. Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony then gave wing to Schiller’s words, but barely a century later these same words were claimed by Nazi propagandists and twisted by a barbarism so complete that it ruptured, as one philosopher put it, “the deep layer of solidarity among all who wear a human face.”
When it comes to how societies remember these increasingly distant dreams and catastrophes, we often think of history books, archives, documentaries, or memorials carved from stone. But in Time’s Echo, the award-winning critic and cultural historian Jeremy Eichler makes a passionate and revelatory case for the power of music as culture’s memory, an art form uniquely capable of carrying forward meaning from the past.
With a critic’s ear, a scholar’s erudition, and a novelist’s eye for detail, Eichler shows how four towering composers—Richard Strauss, Arnold Schoenberg, Dmitri Shostakovich, and Benjamin Britten—lived through the era of the Second World War and the Holocaust and later transformed their experiences into deeply moving, transcendent works of music, scores that echo lost time. Summoning the supporting testimony of writers, poets, philosophers, musicians, and everyday citizens, Eichler reveals how the essence of an entire epoch has been inscribed in these sounds and stories. Along the way, he visits key locations central to the music’s creation, from the ruins of Coventry Cathedral to the site of the Babi Yar ravine in Kyiv.
As the living memory of the Second World War fades, Time’s Echo proposes new ways of listening to history, and learning to hear between its notes the resonances of what another era has written, heard, dreamed, hoped, and mourned. A lyrical narrative full of insight and compassion, this book deepens how we think about the legacies of war, the presence of the past, and the renewed promise of art for our lives today.
Praise for Time’s Echo
“Music is an airy, abstract art, yet every note is grounded in history and in the earth. Jeremy Eichler, one of our finest writers on music, captures that duality supremely well in Time’s Echo, his eagerly awaited first book. Delving into twentieth-century musical memorials by Richard Strauss, Schoenberg, Britten, and Shostakovich, Eichler evokes not only the smoldering power of the music but also the haunted lives and places from which these masterpieces sprang. It is a work of searching scholarship, acute critical observation, philosophical heft, and deep feeling.” —Alex Ross, author of The Rest Is Noise
“This passionate book delves deep into classical music’s responses to World War II, and the tragic intertwining of German and Jewish cultures. Eichler roves through history and language to express how music keeps cultural memory alive. Along the way, he paints an unforgettable portrait of an unspeakable time.” —Jeremy Denk, author of Every Good Boy Does Fine
“At a time when debates rage daily over what histories to memorialize and which to reinterpret, along comes Jeremy Eichler to reveal how music preserves the past in the form of intense emotional experience. With a historian’s deep understanding of how societies respond to the trauma of war, and an intuitive feel for music’s molten heat, he brings us a lucid, moving chronicle of four dramatically different works that were born of the same urge: Zachor—Remember. ”—Justin Davidson, Pulitzer Prize-winning critic, New York magazine
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