Monday, January 18, 2010

Silenced Voices

During December on the WTJU classical program Dawn's Early Light, we celebrated Hanukkah with Hebraic themes and music of Jewish composers. Among the pieces was the String Quartet #1 of Ervin Schulhoff.

If Schulhoff is not familiar, perhaps it is because he died young and tragically in a Nazi concentration camp in 1942. Schulhoff was interned for a time at the Terezin (Theresienstadt in German) concentration camp in Czechoslovakia. Terezin was constructed to serve Nazi propaganda as a model of culture and ethical treatment of detainees. A large number of artists and musicians were sent to Terezin including Pavel Haas, Gideon Klein, Hans Krasa, and Victor Ullmann. Almost all perished in one of the Nazi camps.

Unbelievably and as a testament to the human spirit, these musicians composed a considerable number of pieces during their imprisonment (see, "Music of the Ghettos and Camps"). Many works survived such as those of Haas: Study for Strings, Four Songs on Chinese Poetry; Klein: Fugue for String Quartet, String Trio; Krasa: the opera Brundibar; and Ullmann: String Quartet #3, Piano Sonatas 5-7, and the protest opera Der Kaiser von Atlantis.

The Terezin Chamber Music Foundation is dedicated "to preserving and advancing the resilience of the human spirit as expressed and inspired by the music and art created in the Terezin concentration camp." In addition, the Czech musician Joza Karas devoted himself to researching and preserving the music of the camps. His book, Music in Terezin 1941-1945, was published shortly before his death in 2008.

No comments:

Post a Comment