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A Musical Inheritance

In The Nightingale’s Sonata: The Musical Odyssey of Lea Luboshutz (Pegasus Books, 2019), Thomas Wolf ’68 explores the musical and familial legacy of his grandmother Lea, a Russian émigré violinist whose prodigious talent took her from a childhood as a poor Yiddish-speaking Jewish girl in Odessa to an international performing career.

Wolf also writes about many other members of his highly talented musical family—among them his brother, the pianist Andrew Wolf; his great-aunt Anna Luboshutz, a cellist whose career resembled what might have been Lea’s had she stayed in the Soviet Union; his great-uncle Pierre Luboshutz, part of the acclaimed piano duo Luboshutz & Nemenoff; and his uncle Boris Goldovsky, a pianist, conductor, and opera producer popularly known for his radio commentaries for the Metropolitan Opera.

But the magnetic Lea—a legendary krasavitsa (remarkable beauty) in her younger years—figures at the heart of the book.

Wolf attempts an honest appraisal of her musical legacy. “Perhaps,” he writes, “I could admire my grandmother not only as the woman who had forged a successful career in the male-dominated, cutthroat world of solo violin playing in the first half of the 20th century but also someone who had been a rare and special musician.”