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This beautiful photography book chronicles the work of Ammon Weinstein, master violin maker and creator of an educational program about the Holocaust so moving and magnificent he received an Anne Frank Special Recognition Award for his efforts.
Gold Winner of the 2022 IPPY Awards in History FOREWORD REVIEW'S 2021 INDIES FINALIST for Best Book in Photography
Amnon Weinstein, an Israeli master luthier (violin maker), began a project 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. For his efforts, Amnon and his "Violins of Hope" project received the 2020 Anne Frank Special Recognition Award, created by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to honor those who have demonstrated a commitment to fighting intolerance, antisemitism, racism, or discrimination.
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 insightful 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-Möst 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-Möst 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.
The son of a diplomat, Daniel Levin spent his early years in the Middle East and in Africa and then trained as a lawyer. Currently a board member of the Liechtenstein Foundation for State Governance, he has, for the past twenty years, worked with governments and development institutions worldwide, focusing on economic development and political reform through financial literacy, political inclusion, and constitutional initiatives. He is also engaged in Track 3 diplomacy and mediation efforts in war zones. Levin's first book, Nothing but a Circus: Misadventures Among the Powerful, was published in Germany, Japan, Russia, and the UK. Proof of Life is his first book to be published in the United States. He lives outside New York City.
Franz Welser-Möst, a violinist from Austria who studied under the composer Balduin Sulzer, has been Music Director and Principal Conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra since 2002. Previously, he was Music Director with the Zürich Opera House (1995-2000) and Norrköping Symphony Orchestra in Sweden.