A Garden of Eden in Hell: The Life of Alice Herz-Sommer

Front Cover
Alice Herz-Sommer was born in 1903 in Prague, the Prague of the Hapsburgs and of Franz Kafka, a family friend. Musically very gifted, by her mid-teens Alice was one of the best-known pianists in Prague. But as the Nazis swept across Europe her comfortable, bourgeois world began to crumble around her, as anti-Jewish feeling not only intensified but was legitimized. In 1942, Alice's mother was deported. Desperately unhappy, she resolved to learn Chopin's 24 Etudes—the most technically demanding piano pieces she knew—and the complex but beautiful music saved her sanity. A year later, she, too—together with her husband and their six-year-old son—was deported to a concentration camp. But even in Theresienstadt, music was her salvation and in the course of more than 100 concerts she gave her fellow-prisoners hope in a world of pain and death. This is her remarkable story, but it is also the story of a mother's struggle to create a happy childhood for her beloved only son in the midst of atrocity and barbarism. Of 15,000 children sent to the camp, Raphael was one of the 130 who survived. Today, Alice Herz-Sommer lives in London and she still plays the piano every day.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - UberButter - LibraryThing

Alice’s Piano: The Life of Alice Herz-Sommer by Melissa Muller 349 pages ★★★★ In February of this year there were reports of the world's oldest known Holocaust survivor, Alice Herz-Sommer, passing ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - mabith - LibraryThing

This is an excellent biography of a fascinating woman, until this past February she was the oldest Holocaust survivor, at 110 years. Born in 1903 she saw an immense amount of change in her life. The ... Read full review


World War

16 other sections not shown

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2007)

Melissa Muller is the coauthor of Until the Final Hour: Hitler's Last Secretary. Reinhard Piechocki is the author of a number of works of cultural history and has been a close friend of Alice Herz-Sommer's for many years.

Bibliographic information