Guest profile – Cory Oldweiler

Cory Oldweiler, Author of “Testimony of the Senses”

A classical music fan since childhood, Cory Oldweiler bought a ticket on a whim to see Gustavo Dudamel conduct Mahler’s Fifth Symphony with the New York Philharmonic in January 2009. Four months later, he nearly bankrupted himself to attend the complete Mahler cycle taking place at Carnegie Hall. Mahler’s music became a passion for Oldweiler and inextricably linked to “Testimony of the Senses,” the novel he began writing that winter.

The book is part coming-of-age quest, part love letter to the arts, but there is nothing quotidian in the Book-TOStale of Emilio Tramonti, whose birthday is exactly forty-nine years after the premiere of Mahler’s Seventh. Emilio grows up believing his father died before he was born, but when he turns seventeen, he learns that his life has been predicated on a lie: his father is alive. He leaves home, seeking to understand, and eventually to confront, the man who ran rather than raise his child. Navigating thoughts on family and faith; love and loss; literature, language and especially music; Emilio is conducted through it all by his omnipresent companion, the Seventh, which he believes provides the aural architecture of his life. He recounts his journey, one movement at a time, and in the propulsive Scherzo, finally faces judgment for the choices he has made.

Oldweiler took a roundabout route to publishing his first novel. He studied electrical engineering as an undergraduate at the University of Colorado at Boulder and journalism in graduate school at Northwestern University. He has written about topics as wide-ranging as the oxidation kinetics of tantalum nitride thin film resistors, pig farmers protesting in Prague, and the transformation of public housing in Chicago. For the past eleven years, he tended bar in northern Michigan during the summers and traveled and wrote during the winters. He is currently relocating to New York City where he plans to continue work on his second novel.