Time’s Echo: The Second World War, the Holocaust, and the Music of Remembrance

Knopf. Aug. 2023. 400p. ISBN 9780525521716. $30. MUSIC
In this profoundly moving book, the Boston Globe’s chief classical music critic Eichler examines how four modernists coped with the trauma of World War II and the Holocaust by composing transcendent pieces of music: Richard Strauss’s Metamorphosen, Arnold Schoenberg’s A Survivor from Warsaw, Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 13 (Babi Yar), and Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem. The book starts in 1827, when German poet Goethe sat under an oak tree in Ettersberg and ate a sumptuous breakfast, while enthusing on the goodness of life. In 1937, the forest was cleared away to build the Buchenwald concentration camp. A beech remained inside but now in a world of horror. The author also recounts listening to a 1929 recording of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Concerto for Two Violins, played by father and daughter Arnold and Alma Rose. Alma died in Auschwitz in 1944, and her father, a broken man, lived until 1946. This book is about how music bears witness to history, crosses time, and has the power to heal divided souls. It can connect people across ages in ways other memorials can’t.
VERDICT An absorbing read for serious music lovers that may well become a classic in music criticism.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing