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"What a wonderful book! . . .and so lyrical at the end. To be reading it during the current Russian invasion of Ukraine is quite an experience. Altogether, a triumph. You have brought Rebecca to life. I feel that if I ran into her we could start a conversation at once. No wonder everyone fell in love with her — and after they heard her play — even more so. She was a star."

-- Sandra Herbert

Professor of History Emeritus, University of Maryland

Author, Charles Darwin, Geologist; other works


"Read Firebird in one session. Could not stop once I started. I am full of awe and admiration AND love for this great artist, courageous, strong and passionate woman.  It is indeed a book written by Rebecca Burstein -Arber.  My experience, as a child, with Rebecca was through my piano teacher who was a student of Rebecca. I was periodically brought for her evaluation and have memories that have never faded.  Years later I always visited the old (and magical) house on Selush Street to stand under the window where she taught. Thank you for making [her] come to life again."

-- Chaim Freiberg

American-Israeli Concert pianist (ret.)


“The most fascinating family history I have ever encountered. Rebecca was an astonishing pianist, starting out in Russia, continuing piano studies in classical music center Leipzig Germany, ending up by a fluke in Palestine (though she was not a Zionist), where she lived and taught more than 60 years. An outstanding piano teacher as well as performer, Rebecca taught the children of David Ben Gurion and other founders of the state of Israel. Her students also went on to be accomplished pianists. Woven throughout this first-person memoir are views of world-famous composers like Rachmaninoff and Stravinsky, some of whose works she premiered. A remarkable documentation of a remarkable life [which delivers] a clear sense of what her world was like.”

-- Main Line & Suburban Times (Philadelphia), June 2023

"A remarkable history of Jean’s formidable aunt Rebecca (1894-1993), who, age 87, shared memories of Tsarist pogroms, command performances in Imperial Germany, a perilous cross-border passage during WW1, concerts in freezing halls for Red Army soldiers during the Russian Revolution, and other events that shaped the 20th Century and still resonate today."

-- Quad (Oxford University (U.K.) Alumni Magazine), July 2023

“An evocative biography that breathes life into the remarkable tale of classical pianist Rebecca Burstein-Arber, interwoven with pivotal 20th-century events.  Through her performances we witness European antisemitism, revolutions, wars, economic crises, political tensions, and personal tribulations. From Odessa to Petrograd, Bucharest, and finally Israel, she remained resolute, establishing herself as one of the most highly regarded musicians and teachers of music in Europe. A tribute to a remarkable musician, a recognition of the contributions of Jewish musicians to classical music traditions, and a celebration of the deep connections between music and the invincible human spirit.”

 -- [Capitol] Hill Rag, July 2023

"Thank you for [this] book, beautifully written about her fascinating experiences with famous musicians and places. . .What an amazing person and family.  And the structure of the book -- alternating historic chapters with the oral history -- makes a big difference to drive the incredible story."

 -- Caroline Isber

Washington DC political strategist, October 2023

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