The pianist and teacher Alice Herz-Sommer died last week, after a remarkable and remarkably long life.
Born to middle-class parents in Prague, she began piano lessons at age 5, graduated from conservatory, and had a performing career while still quite young. Because of the circles in which her parents moved, she met both Mahler and Kafka in her youth.
On the brink of World War II, she stayed in Prague to care for her mother. In 1942, Mrs. Herz was deported to Terezin; in 1943, Herz-Sommer, her husband Leopold, and their young son were also deported. Her mother was killed in a death camp and, eventually, so was her husband. Herz-Sommer and her son lived on in Terezin because of the musical performances she had given, and both survived the war. Her son, the cellist Raphael Sommer, died in 2001.
In recent years, Herz-Sommer was profiled in biographies and a short documentary that is up for an Academy Award. She was 110 at her death, and very likely the oldest Holocaust survivor.