Bettina von Kampen


A Novel

Near the end of World War II in Bayreuth, Germany, a composer meets a musically gifted SS officer. The officer has been posted to Bayreuth to perform with other SS members in the chorus of Wagner’s Die Meistersinger. The soldier has committed atrocities at Dachau, but his artistic nature is moved by the composer’s unfinished opera, which he then steals.

The story shifts to contemporary Canada, where the soldier’s sister, Johanna, lives near her son Robert, also a gifted musician. The novel turns on Johanna’s encounter with a Holocaust survivor and the re-emergence of the opera manuscript that had been in her brother’s possession. In a moving climax, Johanna comes to terms both with her complicity in covering up her brother’s past, and with the redemptive power of music.

“The Tristan Chord is a lyrical story about how beauty endures despite barbarism all around.” – Kevin Patterson, author of Consumption

“An exploration of the many functions of music: as an escape from the atrocities of real life, as a unifying force and as a healer.” – Bronwyn Drainie, Literary Review of Canada

“A gripping story [with] memorable and interesting characters.” – Karen Virag, Edmonton Journal

“An intriguing and brave story about the burden of guilt, the clutch of memory and the transcendent quality of music.” – Sharon Chisvin, Indulge

“At the risk of sounding cliche, [this novel] hits all the right notes.” – Julie Horbal, Winnipeg Free Press


Additional Information

Weight 0.454 kg

About the Author

Bettina von Kampen

Bettina von Kampen grew up in Winnipeg. She has written two novels: Blue Becomes You (finalist – in Canada first novel award) and Watch You Don’t Fall. Currently, Bettina lives in Hamilton where she works as a physiotherapist and plays with the intrepid second violins in Symphony Hamilton.