Lover, husband, showman, inventor, refugee, visionary, musician. Under Hitler’s rule in Austria, 1939, Richard Goldner and his wife, Mandi, need to escape. But the only country that will take them is Australia – a country with a similar name but a wildly different culture. Goldner’s dream is simple: to play the viola in the orchestra of his mentor, Simon Pullman. But in the unsophisticated Australia of the 1940s he is far away from Pullman, and as an enemy alien he is forbidden to play.
Australia forces Goldner into a life of contradictions: should he be a follower, or a leader? Artist or businessman? Grateful or angry? Is he an enemy alien or does he collaborate with the Allies? Does he even deserve to play music when others he deems more talented and worthy have been lost? And most important: will he be the man he wants to be, or the man his wife needs him to be? And will their love be a casualty of war?
This is the extraordinary true story of a Jewish viola player who, despite being seen as a ‘bloody reffo’, aided the Allied war effort and transformed the cultural fabric of a nation.
Based on the Book "Beethoven and the Zipper" by