Violins and Hope: From the Holocaust to Symphony Hall by Daniel Levin
Amnon Weinstein, an Israeli master luthier (violin maker), began a project more than years ago that may be one of the most creative, effective, and magnificent approaches to education on the topic of the Holocaust. Trained by three of the most revered Cremona, Italian luthiers of the twentieth century, Weinstein's vision was to restore violins that survived the concentration camps and the ghettos, even when their owners often did not. To date, more than seventy violins have been restored to their highest playable condition. Following restoration, these hauntingly beautiful instruments have been used in performances by symphonies in Berlin, Cleveland, Istanbul, London, Quebec, Paris, San Francisco, and many other cities across the world. Purposefully, Weinstein makes certain that young musicians as well as members of some of the world's most famed orchestras perform on them to packed concert halls. In doing so, it's as if the past owners of the instruments return to fill the listener-observer's mind and body. In Violins and Hope, Daniel Levin has made the most compelling and beautiful series of photographs documenting Weinstein's collection of violins, his workshop in Tel Aviv, and his processes for restoration. This book is not a document of place, as much as it is a document of the ethereal. For what Weinstein has done with these lost violins has been to transform tragic loss into triumph in the most inciteful and powerful way imaginable. The care that Levin has taken to hone in on the idiosyncrasies of Amnon's workshop, and his uncanny ability to celebrate the beauty of light, is nothing short of remarkable. The book's foreword is written by arguably the most well-suited individual anywhere. Born in Austria, Franz Welser-Moest is one of the most acclaimed conductors of the twenty-first century. He has been Music Director of the Cleveland Orchestra since 2002, and, under his direction, The Cleveland, as it has been fondly named by The New York Times, has had twenty international tours, with shimmering reviews. All too aware of his ancestry, Welser-Moest takes on our mutual history as no one else could. And the book concludes with Levin's interview with Assi Weinstein, Amnon's wife, who talks about the Violins of Hope project and its enduring legacy.