Maria ņngels Anglada
The Auschwitz Violin By Maria Àngels Anglada,
This is a little book, a little over 100 pages. But this novel is haunting in its poignancy and life redeeming qualities.
The name suggests that it is located in a place which witnessed some of the worst crimes that man has committed against humanity.
The novel begins, however, many years after the liberation of the camp in Auschwitz. In the winter of 1991 in Krakow, a woman plays a violin in a concert dedicated to Mozart. She is the first violinist in the performance of Mozartís Sinfonia Concertante, K.364. Another musician, Climent, sitting in the audience is immediately drawn to the beautiful tone quality of the violin being used by the first violinist. He noticed that her performance was accomplished, passionate and that her eyes grew sad when she had finished playing.
Back in his hotel room, Climent could still hear that violin, its sound was so velvety and full. He knew it was not one made by the masters of Cremona. Was it then a violin from the old Polish school? Had one survived? He thought it was a German violin, perhaps made by one of the Klotzes, the long line of violin-makers.
When he met the violinist, Regina, Climent discovered it was not a Klotz. Regina revealed that the violin had been made by her uncle Daniel to the same measurements as the Stradivarius and the violin had a story behind it.
Reginaís entire family had been victims of the Holocaust. Her mother and grandmother had died in the Krakow ghetto, her father and older brother at Auschwitz, killed by the Nazis. Only uncle Daniel had survived. He had survived because he had made the violin in the carpenterís room in the death camp.
This novel is about the making of that violin under brutal conditions. In the camp, when Danielís occupation was discovered, the Kommandant and the camp doctor (who carried out inhuman experiments on human beings) made a cruel wager. On the making of the violin depended Danielís life and the winner of the wager would get a crate of vintage Burgundy.
Maria ņngels Anglada tells the story with restrain and elegance. Every chapter has as its epigraph an extract from some of the orders the Nazis gave about the prisoners in the camp.
This is a novel about one manís desperate attempt to cling to the only craft that he knows while all around him he sees the degradation of human beings and their murder. It is also about the redemptive powers of music. The book ends with two haunting sentences: ďIt isnít true, is it, Daniel, that music can tame the beasts? Yet, in the end, a song lives.Ē