Friday, July 6, 2012

Gerald Elias

A graduate of Yale, Gerald Elias has been a Boston Symphony violinist, Associate Concertmaster of the Utah Symphony since 1988, Adjunct Professor of Music at the University of Utah, first violinist of the Abramyan String Quartet, and Music Director of the Vivaldi Candlelight concert series.

His novels include Devil's Trill, Danse Macabre, Death and the Maiden, and the recently released Death and Transfiguration.

Last month I asked him what he was reading.  His reply:
I'm currently finishing up a month-long concert tour to Peru, my sixth extended visit to that fascinating country since 2005. I was a student of archeology/anthropology back in the day, and I've become absorbed by the incredibly rich archeological record left by ancient Peruvians. Most of us tend to think "Inca" when it comes to Peru, but the Incan empire was just the icing on the cake, existing for only about 150 years until they were conquered by the Spanish invaders in the mid-1500s. Peruvian prehistory, though, dates back 5,000 years (so far), not just 500, with regional civilizations that existed for centuries that were at least as advanced as any other contemporaries in rest of the world, including Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

All of these Peruvian cultures were preliterate, so their stories are told only by stone, metals, ceramics, and fabrics. But what complex and fascinating stories! And what unsurpassed craftsmanship! It's not easy to get a handle on the immensity, richness, and complexity of prehistoric Peru, which is why I'm currently reading the very well-organized The Cultures of Ancient Peru by Luis Felipe Villacorta Ostolaza. The book concisely divides the various cultures and civilizations of Peru both chronologically and geographically, using effectively conceived maps and timelines to aid one's understanding, and drawing upon well-photographed archeological treasures left behind to illuminate the way of life of some of the most advanced societies the world has seen.
Visit Gerald Elias's website.

Interview: Gerald Elias (June 2012).

--Marshal Zeringue