Lost Chords

A cellist with perfect pitch in a novel of somber dissonance

Reinhart Sundheimer was a world-beating cellist until his 20s. To hear him tell it, he was betrayed by his gift for perfect intonation: "My ear began to examine each note so intensely that even a variation of a single cycle of pitch bothered me." So, at 35, Reinhart is a reclusive music teacher in Los Angeles.

How do you warm up to a character at once high strung and low key? It takes patience, a virtue that Mark Salzman demonstrated in Iron and Silk, a 1986 account of the author's experiences in China. Now Salzman brings East and West together in...

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