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First Violin

A Novel by Richard Tomlinson

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First Violin by Richard Tomlinson

ABOUT First Violin

The year is 1938 and Austria has been annexed by Nazi Germany.

Klaus Lehner plays first violin for the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and when the concertmaster is amongst other Jews expelled from Philharmonic, he sees the opportunity for a position he covets. He is bitterly disappointed when he is passed over.

In the wake of his disappointment, Klaus’s lover Eva, a virtuoso cellist, urges him to become a soloist. To determine whether he is merely brilliant or can truly move an audience she tasks him with mastering difficult pieces by Bach and Paganini, and with fathering her baby – both of which he does.

Meanwhile, at home, Klaus’s wife Helga gives birth to their firstborn.

When Eva’s Nazi husband finds out about the love affair, he has Klaus arrested and sent to a Mauthausen subcamp to supervise Ukrainian laborers. Amidst the suffering, Klaus composes a tone poem, Silence Interrupted, translating his nightmares into sound.

After the camp is liberated, Klaus returns to a war-torn Vienna devastated by American bombers and occupied by the Soviet army. He makes a living busking in front of the Soviet Vienna City Kommandatura. Klaus faces a choice between the two women he left behind.

Headshot of Richard Tomlinson Author

About The Author

Richard Tomlinson’s working life has been divided between being an academic and an urban policy consultant.

As an academic, either in fulltime or visiting capacity, he has been located in Australia at the University of Melbourne (Chair of the Urban Planning Program); in South Africa at the University of the Witwatersrand; and in the USA at Columbia and New School Universities and MIT, and in think tanks at the Brookings Institution and the Wilson Center; and at the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center in Italy. A Fulbright Scholar, he did his PhD at Rutgers University.

As a post-1990 consultant based in Johannesburg, Richard’s clients in Southern Africa included the post-apartheid South African government, various local and international NGOs, the World Bank, USAID and the private sector, during which time he also facilitated multi-party negotiations. He has also worked with community organizations.

Richard has published on Australia’s metropolitan knowledge deficit; low-income housing in Australia and South Africa; community organization and sanitation in slums in Mumbai; the urban legacy of the Olympic Games in Beijing and Rio de Janeiro; World Bank and USAID policy processes and notions of international best practice; municipal services, HIV/AIDS and home-based care; digital technologies and metropolitan governance; and so on. You can find his other books here.

Richard’s current activities depend on the weather: kayaking, swimming, hiking and mountain climbing and writing. Surfing has given way to age.

First Violin, set in a wonderful city, Vienna, is his debut novel.


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First Violin



Available in Paperback & eBook.

Order Today!

First Violin by Richard Tomlinson