Time’s Echo wins three National Jewish Book Awards including “Book of the Year”

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Time’s Echo has been named “Book of the Year” by the National Jewish Book Awards, and has received two additional prizes in the categories of “History” and “Holocaust.” The prizes are given annually by the Jewish Book Council. This year marked the first time that one title has won the Council’s overarching Book of the Year prize as well as two additional prizes in specific categories.

From the jury citation:

Jeremy Eichler’s riveting and magisterial new book, Time’s Echo, details how the Holocaust has been memorialized in monuments, museums, art, architecture, national narratives, and even fiction and poetry—and it’s crucial for understanding both the events of the Holocaust and how we make sense of them today. Until now, no one had plumbed the depths of what Eichler calls “the music of remembrance.” Nor had anyone discussed how music preserved Holocaust memory in ways that no other artistic medium could.

Based on impeccable historical and musicological research, Eichler tells the origin stories of towering works by Richard Strauss, Arnold Schoenberg, Dmitri Shostakovich, and Benjamin Britten, all of which reflect these composers’ lived experiences during World War II and the Holocaust. They are what Eichler calls “vital repositories of cultural memory, [where] the living past still resides.”

In lyrical, clear-eyed prose, Eichler guides us deep into the times, spaces, and performances of Shostakovich’s “Babi Yar Symphony,” Schoenberg’s “A Survivor from Warsaw,” Strauss’s “In Memoriam,” and Britten’s “War Requiem.” With “the ears of a critic and the tools of a historian,” Eichler proposes a profoundly new and original way of “hearing history”—that is, by “listening with an understanding of music as time’s echo.”

This is cultural history at its most profound and moving. Like the music at its heart, this book also “flows from the mysterious capacity to bridge emotion and intellect.” It is a groundbreaking achievement in memorial history.

Congratulations to all the finalists and winners.

For more information: “Critic’s account of classical music after the Holocaust is named Jewish book of the year,” JTA, January 24, 2024.