“The Prague Sonata” by Bradford Morrow— Music and War

Morrow, Bradford. “The Prague Sonata”, Atlantic Monthly Press, 2017.

Music and War

Amos Lassen

Meta Taverner is a young musicologist received a gift from a friend named Irena, a Czech immigrant living out her final days in Queens—-pages of a worn and weathered original sonata manuscript. Meta’s career of a concert pianist was ended by an injury. Meta believes that the sonata is an authentic eighteenth-century work and that it is the work of a master composer however, there is no indication as to who that composer might be. With the gift came the request that Meta attempt to find the manuscript’s true owner who was from Prague who the old woman has not heard from since the Second World War forced them apart and in doing so Meta could make the three-part sonata whole again. Leaving New York behind, Meta sets out on an unforgettable search to locate the remaining movements of the sonata and uncover a story that has influenced the course of many lives, even when it becomes clear that she isn’t the only one after the music’s secrets.

Otylie’s father died as a casualty of war and he left behind his nine-year-old daughter who he’d been training to be an accomplished pianist with a music manuscript she knew to be his most prized possession. Otylie swears never again to sing or play music and so when Prague became involved in war, she divided the sonata into three parts. In this way, the Nazis would not get the complete work. She knew that the sonata might be historically important and she wanted to protect it. She kept one movement for herself, sent another by messenger to her husband who had disappeared into the underground resistance movement, and gave a third to friends.

Meta learned that she was not the only one looking for answers about the script. The story moves back and forth through time in a beautiful yet compelling manner and we gain interesting background information about several well-known characters that played a part in WWII.

In a beautifully written and plotted book, we read about love, loss and the human heart.

“The Prague Sonata” is epic and intimate at the same time and it shows us that love and sacrifice are part of how we live. We revisit history and are taken back to World War I, World War II, the fall of the Soviet Union and back to the present day.

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