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Time’s Echo

Jeremy Eichler

A stirring account of how music acts as a witness to history and a medium of cultural memory in the post-Holocaust world.

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‘Profoundly moving.’ EDMUND DE WAAL

‘A work of searching scholarship, acute critical observation, philosophical heft, and deep feeling.’ ALEX ROSS
‘A rare book: extraordinarily powerful – magisterial, meticulously rich and unexpected, deeply affecting and human.’ PHILIPPE SANDS

A remarkable and stirring account of how music acts as a witness to history and a medium of cultural memory in the post-Holocaust world.

When it comes to how societies commemorate their own distant dreams and catastrophes, we often think of books, archives, or memorials carved from stone. But in Time’s Echo, Jeremy Eichler makes a revelatory case for the power of music as culture’s memory, an art form uniquely capable of carrying forward meaning from the past.

Eichler shows how four towering composers – Richard Strauss, Arnold Schoenberg, Benjamin Britten and Dmitri Shostakovich – lived through the era of the Second World War and the Holocaust and later transformed their experiences into deeply moving works of music, scores that carry forward the echoes of lost time. A lyrical narrative full of insight and compassion, this book deepens how we think about the legacies of war, the presence of the past, and the profound possibilities of art in our lives today.

Critic Reviews

'We were stunned by its profundity, its masterful structure, its beautiful shimmering sentences. It is evidently a life’s work, a labor of love, and a testimony to the pain of war. It has an utterly unique voice, and it warrants being classed as a masterpiece of nonfiction writing.'

Baillie Gifford Prize judges
Critic Reviews

If you ever doubted that music matters, Eichler has written the book to prove you wrong ... deeply affecting ... it’s a long time since I’ve read such a thoughtfully written history book.

Dominic Sandbrook, Sunday Times
Critic Reviews

Wonderful ... This is a deeply learned book, but it is also a very human one.'

Ivan Hewett, Daily Telegraph
Critic Reviews

Eloquent and thought-provoking ... an insightful reflection on how we remember and who we forget.

Leah Broad, Financial Times
Critic Reviews

Fascinating . . . Richly detailed.

William Boyd, New Statesman
Critic Reviews

Jeremy Eichler’s Time’s Echo (Faber) is the outstanding music book of this and several years. Eichler’s subtitle discloses his subject: The Second World War, the Holocaust, and the music of remembrance. His absorbing examination of a small number of compositions addressing the war, including Schoenberg’s A Survivor from Warsaw and Britten’s War Requiem, makes a strong case for music as that dark period’s memory bank for a time, soon coming, when there will be no witness left. Eichler has a professional music critic’s ability to bring music to life without using technical language, and his presence in his narrative as he visits sites and asks questions, of himself or others, is exemplary in its discretion and wisdom. Books of the Year 2023

Paul Griffiths, Times Literary Supplement

A writer, scholar and critic, Jeremy Eichler is the author of Time’s Echo, a celebrated new book on music, war and memory that was named “History Book of the Year” by The Sunday Times and hailed as “the outstanding music book of this and several years” by The Times Literary Supplement. Chosen as a notable book of 2023 by The…

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