for Further READING


Additional resources are provided for those wishing to learn more about the history, the music, and the people chronicled in The Nightingale’s Sonata. Suggestions for further reading are listed below. Audio recordings can be found here. Film and video resources can be found here. An alphabetical list of the characters can be found here.

For those with specific interests not covered in this brief list, please consult the bibliography of The Nightingale’s Sonata.

The Noise of Time | Julian Barnes


Alfred A. Knopf, 2016. This compelling novel is about the celebrated Soviet composer, Dmitri Shostakovich, and his struggles to live a life devoted to music in the face of official persecution and humiliation. While Lea and much of her family departed Russia soon after the Bolsheviks came to power, her sister Anna, a cellist, and Anna’s husband had to live under a regime that was alternately supportive and oppressive.  Barnes’ book was not without controversy when it appeared in 2017 as reported in a New Yorker article.


A People’s Tragedy: A History of the Russian Revolution | Orlando Figes


Viking Penguin Books, 1997. This masterpiece weighs in at over 800 pages so it is certainly not for everyone, even those interested in the topic of the Russian Revolution.  Nevertheless, it offers great insight into the lives and tragedy of people like Onissim Goldovsky, who believed fervently that Russia could evolve into a constitutional democracy according to Western models. Figes elucidates the historical, political, economic, and social forces that made a very different fate inevitable.  A sixteen-page conclusion to the book is a cogent summary of its most important ideas.


My Road to Opera: The Recollections of Boris Goldovsky | Boris Goldovsky (with Curtis Cate)


Houghton Mifflin, 1979. A delightful autobiography that traces Lea’s son’s earliest years in Moscow to his emergence as one of America’s leading figures in the field of opera.  Though currently out of print, many copies can be purchased through various sellers on the internet.


Good Afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen! (Intermission Scripts from the Met Broadcasts) | Boris Goldovsky


Indiana University Press, 1984. Lea’s son started broadcasting from the Metropolitan Opera House in New York in 1946, providing scholarly observations and personal reminiscences about the performances. Twenty six of his intermission scripts have been included in this book, including “Aïda,” “Carmen,” “The Magic Flute,” and “Tosca.”  Sadly, an accompanying audiotape that featured Boris’ playing the musical examples on the piano went out of print and was never converted to a digital file. Nevertheless, the texts remain quite interesting.


To Reveal Our Hearts: Jewish Women Writers in Tsarist Russia | Carole B. Balin  


Hebrew Union College Press, 2000.  This book provides an excellent and comprehensive glimpse of Onissim Goldovsky’s wife, Rashel Khin, along with four other important female Jewish Russian writers. This first serious biography in English of Khin did not appear until the year 2000. Until that time, many in the Luboshutz, Goldovsky, and Wolf families either did not know of Khin’s existence or did not know her name.


Efrem Zimbalist: A Life | Roy Malan


Amadeus Press, 2005.  Zimbalist was one of the most important violinists of the 20th century, someone Lea knew from her conservatory days who ultimately became her boss as Director of the Curtis Institute of Music.  Lea’s brother Pierre served as his occasional accompanist when he first came to the United States.  Malan’s definitive and readable biography provides much insight into the man and the world that Zimbalist and Lea shared.


The Kreutzer Sonata | Leo Tolstoy


The Kreutzer sonata is both a musical composition by Beethoven (recording can be heard here) and a novella by the great Russian writer, Leo Tolstoy. Both versions (musical and literary) figure prominently in The Nightingale’s Sonata.  There are many Tolstoy anthologies that contain this compelling tale of love, betrayal, and murder. Most include other Tolstoy short stories that make for compelling reading.

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Musical Gifts or How a Maine Fishing Village Became a Center for Great Music | Thomas Wolf


Bay Chamber Concerts, 2011. Lea Luboshutz came to Rockport, Maine for the first time in 1930 just as it was being transformed by Mary Curtis Bok into a summer music colony for her Curtis Institute of Music. For every summer thereafter, Lea brought her family to Rockport often performing in concerts herself or with her son Boris. Eventually her grandsons started performing there as well and established a musical organization called Bay Chamber Concerts that thrives to this day. This book tells the story and expands on what is in The Nightingale’s Sonata. It contains many photographs and has an accompanying film which can be watched here.  A fuller description of the book can be found here. Signed copies of the book are available through the Harvard Book Store.

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“A Cognitive Model of Musical Sight-Reading” | Thomas Wolf


 Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, Vol. 5, No. 2, 1976.  Being able to read a complicated piece of music for the first time as one is playing it is an important skill. Interestingly, there are many fine musicians who are not very good at it.  Boris Goldovsky, Lea’s son, was an excellent sight reader but in The Nightingale’s Sonata, he is astonished by the far superior sight-reading skills of the pianist/conductor/composer, Ernst von Dohnanyi. While a graduate student at Harvard, Thomas Wolf performed this study of sight-readers in which Boris and his brother Andy were among his subjects.  Aspects of the work were described years later in an Op Ed piece by Joseph Hallinan in the New York Times on March 5, 2011 entitled “The Young and the Perceptive.”

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For those with specific interests not covered in this brief list, please consult the bibliography of The Nightingale’s Sonata.