Friday 11 October 2013

The Lady in Number 6: a remarkable life in music

The Lady in Number 6 - Malcolm Clarke
An intriguing and remarkable film was released this summer, showcasing a moving and remarkable story. The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life. The film, directed by Malcolm Clarke, tells the story of the pianist Alice Herz-Sommer. A holocaust survivor and now aged 109, the film tells the story of her remarkable life. The title comes from the fact that her neighbours in North-West London, hearing her playing the piano, referred to her simply as the Lady in Number 6.

You may never have heard of Alice Herz-Sommer, but for a period before 1939 she was a famous concert pianist in Central Europe. She was born in Prague in 1903, as a girl she knew Gustav Mahler and Franz Kafka. A gifted pianist she married the violinist Leopold Summer. Persecuted by the Nazi's in Prague, several members of her family fled to Palestine but Alice, Leopold and their son stayed behind to care for her mother.

Alice Herz-Sommer, concert programme for Mozarteum 1926

Both Alice's mother and husband were killed by the Nazi's but Alice and her son survived in Terezin; for more than two years Alice gave concerts for the camp Kommandant, visiting dignitaries and fellow prisoners. Playing all of Chopin's 27 etudes from memory helped to keep her sane. After the war she settled in Israel, becoming a renowned scholar and teacher.

The film profiles an extraordinary woman, still a formidable presence. Using interviews with Alice and her friends, archival footage and family photographs (miraculously surviving the Holocaust) Clarke tells Alice's story as an inspiring parable about the power of music.

You can read more about the film, see further extracts and buy copies of the DVD from the film's website.

Elsewhere on this blog:


  1. Read the book!

  2. Could you tell me what is the soundtrack of this movie thanks


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