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The Piano Player of Budapest

Hardcover / ISBN-13: 9781472147844

Price: £22

ON SALE: 6th June 2024

Genre: Biography & True Stories

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One man, his piano and their miraculous survival.

Baroness Julia Neuberger
‘Stunning. A beautiful blend of action, poetry, thought-provoking comment and music … just brilliant’ James Ainscough OBE
‘A gripping narrative of suffering, loss and survival, with music at its heart’ Fiona Maddocks

All future, freedom and success lay ahead of young pianist Stephen de Bastion in 1930s Hungary. Life whirled headily around cocktails, romance, applause and the buzz of Budapest late into the night. Then, 1939. Stephen’s world disintegrates and this becomes a story of his brutal descent, of his time in labour camps, of Mauthausen and Gunskirchen and the unimaginable horrors he endured during the Holocaust as a man of Jewish descent. Yet, this is also a tale of extraordinary escape … and the piano, waiting for him.

The same piano that Roxanne de Bastion, his granddaughter, inherits when her father dies. It has been in the family over one hundred years but it is only when, deep in grief, she discovers a cassette recording of Stephen, that the astonishing history of the piano, the man and her family begins to unravel. Weaving together his original recordings, unpublished memoirs, letters and documents, Roxanne sings out her grandfather’s story of music and hope, lost and found. Luminous and profoundly moving, this book captures the great spirit of one man in the face of darkness and the hope that echoes down through generations.


I loved this [book]. I expected it to be a more gruelling read, but actually it was very emotional but also very approachable. One can hear Istvan/Stephen's voice and his grand-daughter has done him proud. An extraordinary story, and one that lingers in the mind...
Baroness Julia Neuberger
Truly remarkable ... beautifully written and completely addictive. Roxanne de Bastion finely balances her grandfather's gripping and traumatic story of survival with the vivid legacy of her family's history. The words dance off the page and it moved me to tears
Ed Harcourt
Stunning. A beautiful blend of action, poetry, thought-provoking comment and music... just brilliant
James Ainscough OBE
Deeply moving... triumphant
Greg Dawson
One of 2024's most anticipated books
BBC Culture
A remarkable story of survival... told with such humanity and lyricism
Kevin Brennan MP
Resonates for our times
Caroline Sanderson, The Bookseller, *Editor's Choice*
Painfully moving
Kirkus Reviews
A gripping narrative of suffering, loss and survival, with music at its heart
Fiona Maddocks (Observer’s classical music critic and author of Goodbye Russia Rachmaninoff in Exile)