Echo of Time

The Second World War and the Memory of Music

Alfred A. Knopf, 2020

 

 

Only history, real history with all its suffering and contradiction,
constitutes the truth of music.”  — Theodor Adorno

 

My book in progress, Echo of Time, explores new ways of approaching music as culture’s memory. It does so in part by investigating the creation and reception of key musical works written in response to the Second World War and the Holocaust, by the composers Arnold Schoenberg, Dmitri Shostakovich, Benjamin Britten, and Richard Strauss. Yet, more broadly, it is also a book about sound and time travel, a plea for taking music seriously as a uniquely powerful yet often overlooked gateway into multiple twentieth-century pasts. These pasts include moments of war, genocide, exile, and cultural destruction, but also moments of utopian aspiration, dreams of freedom, and early modernism’s fervent hope that culture itself could shape a modern world not yet born. It is a book about re-inscribing these musical works with the fullness of the history they contain within them. And finally, it is a book about finding in this music a renewed resonance for our own time and place. Echo of Time will be published by Alfred A. Knopf.