eisenman’s memorial


One could see how it might have been intended to work.

I was in Berlin a few months back for a concert featuring two compositions by Ernst Toch, my grandfather: a Cello Concerto that during the height of the Weimar era had been one of the most celebrated and performed pieces of its time, there in that capital of avant-garde music; and then the defiantly vivid and unbowed Piano Quintet he had composed only a few years later, early on in the California exile that would nevertheless, with time, come to entail the slow occlusion of his once-vibrant reputation (“I still have my pencil!” he had declared near the outset of his life as a deracinated refugee, though it presently became clear that just having one’s pencil wasn’t by itself ever going to prove quite enough)—anyway, there I was, witnessing the stirrings of a not insubstantial revival of that reputation (in Berlin, of all places!), and I was taking advantage of a break in the rehearsals at the celebrated Kammermusiksaal of the Philharmonic to saunter through the clean, clear late spring afternoon in the direction of Peter Eisenman’s recently completed Memorial for the Murdered Jews of Europe, a few blocks away, just off Hannah-Arendt-Strasse, on the lee side of the lush Tiergarten park, in the shadow of the Brandenburg Gate and a few blocks down from the Reichstag itself; and having read so much about the memorial, I was brimming over with expectation.

more from Lawrence Weschler at VQR here.