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  • Today, "Berlin Requiem" by Xavier-Marie Bonnot, published on September 2, 2021 by Éditions Plon.

Audrey Escoin, contributor to the

20 Minutes


reading group

, recommends

Berlin Requiem

 by Xavier-Marie Bonnot, published on September 2, 2021 by Éditions Plon.

Her favorite quote:

"Life without music is quite simply an error, an ordeal, an exile" (Friedrich Nietzsche)

Why this book?

  • Because we meet there Wilhelm Furtwängler,

    renowned conductor who directs the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra while Hitler rises in power and comes to power. He could have fled, like other musicians or writers. But he decided to stay. Not out of support for National Socialism, but out of love and respect for its music. For him, directing his orchestra, making a living from his music should not be influenced by politics.

  • Because in parallel, we follow two fictional characters,

    Rodolphe Meister and his mother. She is a famous singer and the young boy declares a keen interest in music from a very young age. But war breaks out, and they are driven to flee Germany. They meet in Paris, and will soon be separated in dramatic conditions. After the war, we find our conductor and Rodolphe Meister, who are asked to take over from the conductor. The moment to review these past years, their various experiences and the paths taken.

  • Because it's a fascinating novel.

    Is art stronger than politics?

    This question is somewhat the common thread of this novel.

    And even if we don't know anything about music, we can appreciate this story and we quickly let ourselves be lulled by this art so precious in this story.

    You will surely feel, like me, the need to accompany your reading of the conductor's recording to get closer to the character.

The essentials in 2 minutes

The plot.

 June 1954, the Royal Danish Opera is looking for a new conductor to replace the great Wilhelm Furtwängler, who has reached the end of his life.

A young musician is chosen: Rodolphe Meister, the son of a famous singer.

All three were born in Berlin, got to know and hang out with each other.


 Wilhelm Furtwängler, renowned conductor.

Rodolphe Meister and Christa his mother, a famous singer.

Eva, Rudolph's housekeeper.

Hitler, Goebbels, members of the Nazi Party.

Many musicians and artists.


 Berlin and Paris.

The time.

 From 1932 to 1954.

The author.

 Xavier-Marie Bonnot is a writer, author of numerous novels, and director of documentaries.

This book was read with

 great pleasure.

I discovered the author with this fascinating novel, combining fiction and reality in a remarkable way.

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