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Review Excerpts


The Huntsville Times - April 21, 2012
"Stoessinger’s book weaves Herz-Sommer’s biography into a history of the 20th century in her compelling and, ultimately, deeply hopeful book."

The Chattanoogan - April 19, 2012
"...what is marvelous is that the book was written by another pianist of considerable aplomb, Caroline Stoessinger. That’s why it flows like a symphony from the first page to the last."

The Jewish Daily Forward - April 6, 2012
"...I really did learn something important by reading 'A Century of Wisdom.' It came in the last line of the book, and I took it as a challenge, something that I hope to be able to say in my old age: 'When I die I can have a good feeling. I believe I lived my life the right way'."

GoodReads.com - April 1, 2012
"A Century of Wisdom is the remarkable and inspiring story of one woman’s lifelong determination—in the face of some of the worst evils known to man—to find goodness in life. It is a testament to the bonds of friendship, the power of music, and the importance of leading a life of material simplicity, intellectual curiosity, and never-ending optimism."

Booklist - March 15, 2012
"A treasure trove of insight and reflection. Herz-Sommer's life is a tribute to the purity of artistic endeavor under the most devastating circumstances, and her refusal to be bitterly defined or essentially reshaped by tragedy is a testament to moral and spiritual courage."

Kirkus Reviews - February 15, 2012
"A survivor of Theresienstadt and a world-class Czech pianist shares her amazing story of survival and triumph. Now living in London since she relocated from Jerusalem to be closer to her only son (now deceased), Herz-Sommer is shortly turning 108, still playing the piano, disciplined and abstemious in her daily habits and fairly active, as Stoessinger records over interviews with her between 2004 and 2011. These are short segments that amplify important aspects of her life, such as her acquaintanceship as a young girl in Prague with Franz Kafka and his circle, her happy though too-brief marriage and successful early career as a concert pianist and teacher, the birth of her son in 1937 just as the Nazis were exerting their terror over the Jewish community in Prague and their abrupt deportation to Theresienstadt in 1943. ...[W]hat Stoessinger’s work reveals startlingly and firsthand are details of life in the concentration camp, especially how the musicians coped with the horrible conditions and even formed a vibrant community. ...'Every concert played there,' Stoessinger writes, 'became a moral victory against the enemy.' ...Rounding out this work are memories from Herz-Sommer’s students and friends, reflections on favorite authors such as Spinoza, Rilke and Zweig and even recipes."

 

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