Format Hardcover
Publication Date 06/04/19
ISBN 9781643130675
Trim Size / Pages 6 x 9 in / 336

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The Nightingale's Sonata

The Musical Odyssey of Lea Luboshutz

Thomas Wolf

*Winner of the Sophie Brody Medal*

A moving and uplifting history set to music that reveals the rich life of one of the first internationally renowned female violinists

Spanning generations, from the shores of the Black Sea to the glittering concert halls of New York, The Nightingale's Sonata is a richly woven tapestry centered around violin virtuoso Lea Luboshutz. Like many poor Jews, music offered an escape from the predjudices that dominated society in the last years of the Russian Empire. But Lea’s dramatic rise as an artist was further accentuated by her scandalous relationship with the revolutionary Onissim Goldovsky.

As the world around them descends in to chaos, between revolution and war, we follow Lea and her family from Russia to Europe and eventually, America. We cross paths with Pablo Casals, Isadora Duncan, Emile Zola and even Leo Tolstoy. The little girl from Odessa will eventually end up as one of the founding faculty of the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music, but along the way she will lose her true love, her father, and watch a son die young. The Iron Curtain would rise, but through it all, she plays on.

Woven throughout this luminous odyssey is the story is Cesar Franck’s “Sonata for Violin and Piano.” As Lea was one of the first-ever internationally recognized female violinists, it is fitting that this pioneer was one of the strongest advocates for this young boundary-pushing composer and his masterwork.

Thomas Wolf has had a distinguished career as musician, educator, consultant, author, and administrator.  A member of the distinguished Luboshutz-Goldovsky Russian family of musicians, he has soloed with the Philadelphia Orchestra and is an accomplished flutist. He and his brother Andrew founded the Bay Chamber Concerts in Maine and he has served as the Executive Director of the New England Foundation for the Arts. He is currently a principal with the consulting firm WolfBrown, and his clients including Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, the Boston Symphony, and the British Museum. A graduate of Harvard University, he lives in Boston.

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Endorsements & Reviews

"An Odessa-born violinist who became a mainstay of the Curtis Institute, Lea Luboshutz was unusual in many ways, not least her feminist independence. I was gripped by her single-mother resourcefulness and eye for the main chance. The story leaps off the page." Norman Lebrecht The Wall Street Journal
“A beautifully written, exhaustively researched account of an extraordinary musician and human being?now a legend. For those of us who seek to ensure the future of music, the remarkable life journey of Lea Luboshutz carries a special resonance and inspiration.”
Roberto Diaz, President and CEO, Curtis Institute of Music; former principal violist, Philadelphia Orchestra
"Beautifully and sensitively written, The Nightingale’s Sonata transcends the story of one family and enlightens the cultural history of our times.”
Loren Graham, MIT and Harvard University, author of Science and Philosophy in the Soviet Union
"As vibrant, elegant and absolutely compelling as its extraordinary chief protagonist. This stunning book combines a family saga rich with struggle, passion, several kinds of love, and a story of performance art on the highest level. A tale that will entrance and inspire.”
Nina Tumarkin, Kathryn W. Davis Professor of Slavic Studies, Wellesley College
"A gripping ride from old Russia to the new world that also guides the reader into an even richer odyssey: the journey inward and the excavation of the universal resilience of the human spirit." Alexandra Silber, author of White Hot Grief Parade, star of the Chicago Shakespeare Company’s “A Midsummer Night's Dream" and Broadway singer
“A tale of towering artistry and tantalizing scandal set against a backdrop of revolutions, czars, queens, and a glittering firmament of figures?Tolstoy, Gorky, Zola, Prokofiev, Koussevitzky, Casals, Heifetz, Stern, Ormandy, Hurok?who come alive in these pages to escort Lea Luboshutz to her overdue moment on the stage of musical history.”
Greg Dawson, author of Hiding in the Spotlight
“An intriguing look into a musical family whose lives were scarcely less dramatic than the times in which they lived. From this narrative emerges a woman whose remarkable musical gift was shaped as much by discipline and persistence as by talent, and whose journey from Ukraine to Russia to the United States proved an odyssey indeed. An affectionate yet clear-eyed portrait.” Library Journal
“A thoroughly researched biography. Detailing Luboshutz’s family life, relationships, and flight from revolutionary chaos in Russia to Europe and then the U.S., Wolf tells a fascinating tale of a Jewish woman surviving and ultimately thriving in a tumultuous time. Classical music fans will delight in this astute assessment of an influential performer and academic.”
Publishers Weekly
“A sensitive, perceptive biography. A captivating story of passion and music.”
Kirkus Reviews