An inspiring story of resilience and the power of optimism - the true story of Alice Herz-Sommer, the world's oldest living Holocaust survivor.
At 108 years old, the pianist Alice Herz-Sommer is an eyewitness to history. She has seen it all, surviving the Theresienstadt concentration camp, attending Eichmann's trial in Jerusalem, and along the way coming into contact with some of the most fascinating historical figures of our time. As a child in Prague, she spent weekends and holidays in the company of Franz Kafka and Gustav Mahler, and Sigmund Freud and Rainer Maria Filke were friendly with her mother. When Alice moved to Israel after the war, Golda Meir attended her house concerts, as did Arthur Rubinstein, Leonard Bernstein and Isaac Stern.
Despite her years of imprisonment, the murders of her mother, husband and friends by the Nazis and, much later, the premature death of her son, Alice has been victorious in her ability to live a life without bitterness. A CENTURY OF WISDOM is lessons from a remarkable and inspiring woman, and evidence of her lifelong determination - in the face of some of the worst evils known to man - to find goodness in life.
A Century of Wisdom is a stately and elegant book about an artist who found deliverance in her passion for music. Caroline Stoessinger writes with a special purity, as though she were arranging pearls on a string of silk. - Pat Conroy
I have rarely read a Holocaust survivor's memoir as enriching and meaningful. Get Caroline Stoessinger's book, A Century of Wisdom, telling Alice Herz-Sommer's tale of her struggles and triumphs. You will feel rewarded. - Elie Wiesel
As one of millions who fell in love with Alice on YouTube, a 107-year-old Holocaust survivor who plays the piano and greets each day with no hint of bitterness, I'm grateful to Caroline Stoessinger for writing a book that explains this mystery. You will be inspired by the story of Alice Herz-Sommer, who lived to teach us. - Gloria Steinem
I'd walked on the cobblestones in Prague for thirty years wondering who might have walked on them before me: Kafka, Freud, Mahler. It feels like a miracle to have encountered, in Caroline Stoessinger's wonderful book, Alice Herz-Sommer, who walked with them all - with a heart full of music. - Peter Sis
Caroline Stoessinger's celebration of music and life, the meaning and legacy of Alice Herz-Sommer's remarkable love-filled journey across the bitter hate-filled years of 20th-century madness is lyrical, compelling, and profoundly moving. This is an extraordinary, enchanting, entirely inspiring book - most timely and needed now. - Blanche Wiesen Cook, author of Eleanor Roosevelt
A sweetly affecting collection - Kirkus
From countless hours and interviews conducted over the course of several years, she has mined 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. As the number of Holocaust survivors dwindles, it becomes increasingly important to capture and communicate their individual stories. - Booklist
A Century of Wisdom is universal and will enrich readers for generations to come - Itzhak Perlman
Caroline Stoessinger, a prominent pianist and artist-in-residence at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, is the founder and director of The Mozart Academy of New York, which provides high quality classical music instruction at no cost to immigrant children who have limited access to such opportunities. She is working on a documentary film about Alice Herz-Sommer.
Alice Herz-Sommer lives in London.