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Music & Men: The Life and Loves of Harriet Cohen

Albert Einstein called her ‘The Beloved Piano-Witch’. Many famous men were besotted by her. Internationally acclaimed concert pianist Harriet Cohen was both beautiful and talented, becoming a household name in the 1920s and 30s. This is the epic love story between Harriet and Arnold Bax, composer and married man.

Based on previously unpublished love letters, the book charts their unquenchable relationship which set them on a turbulent forty-year path of love, lust and betrayal.

This indomitable woman herself had many lovers, and was a great conversationalist whose friends included George Bernard Shaw; D.H. Lawrence, Arnold Bennett and HG Wells, Sir Edward Elgar; Sibelius; Vaughan Williams and William Walton. Politically, her friends included Ramsay MacDonald, the first Labour Prime Minister; Lloyd George, Eleanor Roosevelt; and Chaim Weizmann, the first President of Israel.

Bax’s estranged wife Elsa died in September 1947, something which Harriet did not discover for nine months. She believed that now he would marry her, but he harboured a dark secret. His ensuing confession was to have devastating consequences.


"This is a story that has been waiting to be written for half a century, and Fry has done it proud."

Classic FM

“Her beauty had driven him mad with longing. By God, he thought, unless I have that woman I shall be cheated out of my heaven.”

William Gerhardie

Helen Fry Buy