News & Politics

The Inextinguishable Symphony: A True Story of Music and Love in Nazi Germany

“Moving, informative, well written.”

Martin Goldsmith has a lot to be proud of. A mother and father who passed on their passion for classical music. (Goldsmith is the former host of National Public Radio’s Performance Today.) A family legacy of strength, forged in the Holocaust. A model of commitment in his parents’ marriage. And this moving, informative, well-written book about them.

In 1936, Günther Goldschmidt and Rosemarie Gumpert were young German Jews with musical gifts—his in the flute, hers in the viola. They met in one of the Jewish orchestras the Nazis allowed in the wake of laws prohibiting Jewish participation in Germany’s general cultural life. Love ensued—as did the inexorable erosion of Jews’ rights and livelihoods.

Goldsmith has done as impressive a job of researching the historical context of his parents’ story as he’s done reconstructing their childhoods, their courtship, their fears for themselves and loved ones, their reliance on each other, and their devotion to the music that sustained them amid constant humiliation and loss.

Describing his father’s emigration to Sweden shortly after meeting Rosemarie and his almost immediate return to a dangerous Germany to be with her, Goldsmith writes: “I don’t know if I would have done it. But I do know that I love and admire him for it. I think it’s the most wonderful story I know.”

Goldsmith—both son and writer—values his inheritance, and he shows his appreciation on every page.

Martin Goldsmith

John Wiley & Sons


Senior Managing Editor

Bill O’Sullivan is senior managing editor; from 1999 to 2007, he was a features editor. In another lifetime, he was assistant managing editor. Somewhere in the middle, he was managing editor of Common Boundary magazine and senior editor at the Center for Public Integrity. His personal essays have been cited three times among the notable essays of the year in The Best American Essays. He teaches at the Writer’s Center in Bethesda.