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Children of the Stone

The Power of Music in a Hard Land

by Sandy Tolan

Hardcover, 453 pages, St Martins Pr, List Price: $28 |


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The Power of Music in a Hard Land
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Sandy Tolan's latest chronicles the life story of Ramzi Aburedwan, a Palestinian refugee who got an education, mastered the viola, and founded a music school in the West Bank, showing how his love of music helped to inspire children in a violent land.

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In Palestine, A Child Of Violence Becomes A Music Educator

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Note: Book excerpts are provided by the publisher and may contain language some find offensive.

Excerpt: Children Of The Stone

Children of the Stone

The Power of Music in a Hard Land

Bloomsbury Publishing Plc

Copyright © 2015 Sandy Tolan
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-60819-813-9


Note to readers, xiii,
Maps, xv,
Introduction, xxi,
Prelude: Over the Wall, to Play Beethoven, 1,
First Movement: Stone,
1 Pushcart, 7,
2 Grandfather, 9,
3 Uprising, 25,
4 Father, 40,
5 Accord, 49,
6 Viola, 55,
7 Harmony, 61,
8 Mozart, 73,
9 Symbol, 83,
Interlude I, 95,
Second Movement: Instrument,
10 Conservatoire, 99,
11 Adaptation, 111,
12 Brother, 126,
13 Troubadours, 136,
14 Edward, 146,
15 Jenin, 152,
16 Oday, 164,
17 Celine, 172,
Interlude II, 187,
Third Movement: Practice,
18 Beethoven, 191,
19 Al Kamandjati, 197,
20 Andalucía, 208,
21 Palaces, 216,
22 Luthier, 229,
23 Fire, 236,
24 Birth, 246,
25 Sebastia, 253,
Interlude III, 265,
Fourth Movement: Resistance,
26 Fractures, 269,
27 Unity, 276,
28 Rise, Child, 283,
29 Ode to Joy, 293,
30 A Musical Intifada, 298,
Postlude: Over the Wall, to Play Beethoven, 315,
Acknowledgments, 317,



January 1985 Ramallah

A light rain fell as the five-year-old boy looked up from the bottom of his uncle's three-wheeled vegetable cart. From the street, no one could see him. He was hidden, curled in the shape of a U, breathing in the faint smell of cucumber and tomato. In the semidarkness, the shaggy-haired boy gazed down at his hands, then up through the slats of the wooden lid to bands of gray sky. He could hear his uncle's footsteps behind him; he could feel the uneven pavement as the pushcart bumped along. He listened to the whir of the scooters and the sputter of passing trucks as his uncle pushed him through the wet, hissing streets. Neither man nor boy spoke a word.

The boy in the vegetable cart had just left the courtroom, where his mother sat before a judge. His father was in prison, hauled away by the occupation authorities. In a drunken rage, he had beaten the boy's mother and set fire to the home where she slept. The boy remembered waking to the fire, and the sound of his father screaming at his mother in the middle of the night. Two years later, the mother, twenty years old, fearful of her husband's drinking and violence, had come to ask the judge for a divorce.

As a grown man twenty-seven years later, Ramzi Aburedwan did not remember how he had learned about the divorce proceeding that day, nor why he had felt compelled to convince his uncle to take him to the court.

"Do you wish to keep your children?" the little boy had heard the judge ask his mother. She had been married at sixteen; six years later, she was the mother of two boys and two girls. Ramzi was the oldest.

The mother hoped to bring her children to live with her parents. But her father would not allow it.

"No," Ramzi heard his mother say to the judge. "I cannot keep them."

Ramzi's grandfather, the father of Ramzi's father, had pleaded with the mother. "If you stay with them, I will give you half of my salary." The older man lived in a refugee camp and earned his living by sweeping the streets of the municipality. "This way you will have enough to raise up your family. And you will live near us. I will pay for your house."

But for the mother, this seemed impossible. How could she agree to live with her children in such close proximity to her estranged husband? His beatings had sent her to the hospital many times. After a divorce, she feared, he would be more violent.

"God will give me others, ensh'allah," she told the judge. God willing.

The mother was heartbroken, but the son did not know this. He only heard her words.

The pushcart rolled on, bouncing through ruts and puddles. The boy looked up into strips of wet sky. His uncle pushed him forward, toward somewhere.

Where are we going? he wondered. What will happen?