First lecture of the module: What is/was the Holocaust?

In this lecture, we will look at some of the key questions that we will try to answer in this module: where does the name “Holocaust” come from? What other names are there for the Holocaust? What challenges does the Holocaust pose for trying to understand what Alain Badiou called the ‘accursed century’? In particular, how does thinking about the Holocaust affect the way we think about music? We also take a short tour through the structure of the module, talk about how it will be structured, how it will be assessed and the kinds of things we expect of you on this module. We also talk about the languages of the Holocaust: what languages did the victims speak? Who were they? Finally, this session gives a very brief overview of the kinds of music-making that victims undertook during the Holocaust.
During the lecture, we’ll listen to the following music:
  • S’brent” 1938 Words and music by Mordechai Gebirtig; Written in response to a 1936 pogrom in the Polish town of Przyty, Performed by Bente Kahan on Farewell Krakow (Victoria, Norway, 1992 )
  • Victor Ullmann: Der Kaiser von Atlantis opera (1944) written in concentration camp Theresienstadt
  • Hans Krása: Brundibár children’s opera (1938, first performed in Theresienstadt)
Also worth looking at are the following:
  • Brave Old World, Song of the Lodz Ghetto (Winter & Winter, CD 910 104-2, 2005) See video about this here.
  • Jewish Life: The Old Country edited by Ruth Rubin (Smithsonian Folkways)
Please feel free to start a discussion, ask any questions or make any comments below.

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Filed under Lecture discussions, Listening materials

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