By Simon Behrman in Britain:
Theresienstadt Project: sounds snuffed out by Nazis
by Simon Behrman
The suppressed side of musical life under the Nazis is brilliantly brought to life in this new recording. Many musicians persecuted because of their [Jewish, Roma, etc.] ethnic origins or modernist style were able to escape abroad. But the less fortunate were culturally silenced and then permanently silenced in the death camps.
One camp was very different to the others – Theresienstadt [Terezin in Czech] located near Prague, where the persecuted cultural elite was sent. Here the inmates clandestinely wrote and performed plays and music in order to keep their spirits alive.
This new CD brings together songs written by 11 composers during their time in Theresienstadt.
From the jazz pianist and leader of the “Ghetto Swingers” Martin Roman to the young pioneers of inter-war modernism such as Viktor Ullmann, Hans Krasa and Pavel Haas, this collection demonstrates the dynamic fusion of classical, jazz and popular music that was snuffed out by fascism. The loss of this tradition has haunted and isolated classical music ever since.
This CD is the most fascinating, moving and important recording of classical music that has been produced for many years.
If you want to explore this music further seek out a series called “Entartete Musik” put out by the Decca label in the early 1990s. Most are out of print, but can be found in second hand shops and on the internet.
Film The Counterfeiters about nazi camps here.
Czech neo-nazis in 2007: here.
Richard Strauss: a reluctant Nazi collaborator. Can his music ever be free from the stigma? Here.