Century of Wisdom: Lessons from the Life of Alice Herz-Somer, the World's Oldest Living Holocaust Survivor
At 107 years old, Alice Herz-Sommer is the world's oldest Holocaust survivor, as well as the world's oldest concert pianist. An eyewitness to the entire last century and the first decade of this one, she has seen it all. Despite her years of imprisonment in Theresienstadt concentration camp and the murders of her mother, husband and friends at the hands of the Nazis, Alice is victorious in her ability to move on, to live each day in the present. She has wasted no time on bitterness toward her oppressors and the executioners of her family and instead lives every day as though it is a gift. A Kind of Prayer is the remarkable and inspiring story of one woman's lifelong determination - in the face of some of the worst evils known to man - to bring good to the world, which has helped her to persevere and live a long and vital 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
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.