July 8, 2017

The Prague Sonata

Tomoko likes to read about music, not just perform and teach it. She also likes traveling, especially when combined with music. One of her favorite countries was the Czech Republic. She arrived in 1993, the day that the republic separated from Slovakia. "The day was amazingly calm," says Tomoko. "The event was considered no big thing."

Bradford Morrow's brand new book The Prague Sonata, to be published October 2016 by Atlantic Monthly Press, would interest Tomoko with its combination of location and topic.

This story relates the mystery -- and provenance -- of a sonata, part of which was given to a young musicologist by a dying Czech WWII survivor.  The score appears to be the middle section of a three-movement sonata written in the late seventeenth century. While the piece shows some mastery, and influences by Mozart and Hayden, the musicologist cannot identify the composer.  She is so possessed by the composition that she flies to Prague in order to find the rest of it.

The tale alternates with the history of the music as it passes through various Czechs, focusing on the individuals' experiences of the Holocaust and its influence on their lives afterwards.

The sonata attracts the attention of other musicologists, some of whom are not so scrupulous. As they suspect that the sonata is an early composition of a renown musicians, these competing experts try to twist nationalism and provenance to their advantage.

The result is a suspenseful and satisfying look at the process of musicology and the influence of music on people's lives.

It's sure to intrigue Tomoko!