Category Archives: Listening materials

New article by Ian Biddle: Music, Sound, and Affect in Yiddish-Language Holocaust Cinema: The Posttraumatic Community in Natan Gross’s Unzere kinder (1948)

I have recently published an article on Natan Gross’s Yiddish feature film Unzere kinder.


Natan Gross’s Yiddish-language feature film Unzere kinder (Poland, 1947) to tell the stories of a group of Jewish children orphaned during the Holocaust. Thee article explores the notion of “posttraumatic” cinema through an analysis of the film’s soundtrack.


Opening Paragraph

This article approaches the last twentieth-century fully Yiddish-language film feature, Unzere kinder (dir. Natan Gross, Poland 1948) with a particular interest in its uses of sound and music. The film is interesting for many reasons, but for our purposes, as we shall see, it represents a unique and still very “raw” attempt to deal with the emotional aftermath of the Holocaust. Its use of music and musical performance in the context of postatrocity survival is striking in that musical performance seems to stand here as both a possible therapeutic process and as a way of staging the authenticity of witnesses to the atrocities. It also works in the film as a way of reforming broken communities by emphasizing the socializing and commemorative outcomes of musicking.2 The film is focused on the experiences of a group of child Holocaust survivors being cared for at the Helanówek orphanage just outside the city of Łódź in central Poland, and the orphanage functions as a kind of microcosm of traumatized Jewish communities all over Eastern Europe.

You can access the proofs (before proof-reading) here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Listening materials, Other resources

אינטערעסאַנטסטע באַגעגענישן אין מײַן לעבן: אַבֿרהם סוצקעווער, איליאַ ערענבורג און אַנדערע | Interetsing encounters in my life: Avrom Sutzkever, Ilya Ehrenburg and others

Lecture in Yiddish by Maria Pol’nikaite

Leave a comment

Filed under Holocaust in the news, Holocaust testimonies, Listening materials, Other resources, Yiddish materials 4: primary sources

The Brundibár Arts Festival – the Holocaust in music, words, film & education

Newcastle is playing an active role in helping to mark Holocaust Memorial Day 2017 – a global day of reflection that takes place on Friday January 27th. The City-wide programme spans a month of activities, closing on February 7th, with a number of venues hosting a variety of events including art exhibitions, workshops, lectures, films and music recitals.

Included in the programme is the Brundibár Arts Festival – a wealth of music, spoken word, theatre, education workshops and lectures [30 January – 7 February].

Now in its second year, the Newcastle and Gateshead-based festival aims to curate an annual programme of arts and music events that showcase the ‘little known music’ written during the Holocaust by victims and survivors.

The festival was named after the children’s opera “Brundibár” (meaning Bumblebee), written by Czech composer, Hans Krása.

The opera was performed 55 times by children who were incarcerated at Theresienstadt concentration camp in Terezin (Czechoslovakia). Of the 15,000 children who went through Terezin only 100 survived.  The organisers named the Festival after the opera as a lasting tribute to those children who suffered and perished.

The Brundibár Arts Festival venues include Newcastle City Library, Kings Hall, Newcastle University, Sage Gateshead, Caedmon Hall, Gateshead Central Library, Arch 16 Café, Lit & Phil, Alphabetti Theatre and Brunswick Methodist Church.

The Brundibár Arts Festival is supported by Newcastle City Council, the Radcliffe Trust and the Community Foundation.

The Festival has a strong educational focus with workshops taking place at Wyndham Primary School, Kingston Park Primary School, Sir Charles Parsons School, Great North Children’s Hospital and Thomas Bewick School.

The Brundibár Arts Festival is the brainchild of Russian-born Alexandra Raikhlina. The 33-year old, mum-of-one, lives in Jesmond with daughter Avital (aged 3) and her husband Lewis, who works as a patent attorney. She moved to Newcastle from Belgium eight years ago to take up the role of violinist with the Royal Northern Sinfonia, a job that takes her all over the world.

Alexandra moved from Moscow to Brussels with her family when she was only eight-years old. Her parents and sister still live in Brussels; and a small part of her family remain in Russia – an aunt and a cousin.

Alexandra Raikhlina, Artistic Director of The Brundibár Arts Festival, said: “The seed for the festival was planted in my mind a few years ago, after I was asked to perform at the Holocaust Memorial Day in Newcastle.  I was given open choice in the repertoire to perform, and started to research music on the Internet.  I came across loads of absolutely fascinating music that I had never heard or played myself before. All music that had been inspired and born out of the devastation of the Holocaust.

“Even though music is at the heart of the festival, there is so much more for people to experience. We’ve tried to programme a variety of events that reflect the emotions of the Holocaust, through theatre, art, film, education workshops and music. This is a chance to let people, young and old, learn about a part of history that should never be forgotten.

“Today we stand at a crossroad and we need to choose our path carefully. Let’s learn from our mistakes, be proactive in our actions, and read and learn from history. Let’s not say empty sentences like “Never again” and walk away satisfied.

“The Brundibár Arts Festival aims to positively document the astonishing achievement of artist victims of the Holocaust. We cannot bring lives back but we can carry on their work. Through their music, the composers live on.”

Cllr Joyce McCarty, Deputy Leader of Newcastle City Council, said: “Music and the arts are a very emotive way to reflect on a serious subject like The Holocaust.  The Brundibár Arts Festival is unique to Newcastle and Gateshead, and the organisers have programmed an inspiring array of music, theatre, film and speakers that provides people with an opportunity to think about the past but also allows the audience to look towards the future as we aim to learn from the atrocities of genocide.”

The Brundibár Arts Festival is proud to be bringing over Holocaust survivor, Ela Weissberger from America to deliver a number of fascinating talks in the City.   Ela performed 55 times in the original production of “Brundibár”, and she will share the incredible story of her survival with audiences and schools during her visit to Newcastle.

You can see where Ela will be talking by visiting The Brundibár Arts Festival website which provides the event programme, details of workshops and how to purchase 

People can also see the full Holocaust Memorial Day programme for January and February programmed in association with the City Council’s Arts Team by

Leave a comment

Filed under Holocaust in the news, Listening materials

Music on the Brink of Destruction (BBC Radio 3 Programme)

[From BBC Radio 3 website]

The Nazi camp system was a sprawling universe of brutality and murder that held millions of individuals from across Europe: Jews, Roma and Sinti, German communists, Poles, POWs, and countless others. Themusical works these prisoners created are extraordinary documents from the time: fragments recovered from the rubble of war and genocide; monuments to the lives that were destroyed.

This forgotten musical legacy is beginning to be recovered by historians and musicologists, who have been drawing on newly-discovered scores, songs and oral histories to resurrect the diverse musics created during the Holocaust: from string quartets in Theresienstadt and tender ghetto lullabies to the fighting songs of the Jewish partisans, macabre camp ballads, and sardonic cabaret. Nazism’s victims used music to document their lives, to mourn the loss of home and family, to show solidarity with the anti-fascist cause, to escape reality, to indulge in gallows humour. They also made music on the orders of their jailers, who used music both to celebrate and to oppress.

In the aftermath of war, a few dedicated individuals set about collecting voices and songs on the brink of destruction. Now, drawing on original research and newly-digitized archives, Southampton University’s Shirli Gilbert, historian & author of Music in the Holocaust , analyses this rich musical history from the worst of times.

Click here for more

Leave a comment

Filed under Listening materials, Other primary sources (not Yiddish)

הערט „אוצרות פֿונעם רות רובין אַרכיוו‟ | Hear Treasures from the Ruth Rubin Archive

יאָרצענדליקער לאַנג האָט די אָנגעזעענע ייִדישע ענטנאָמוזיקאָלאָגין רות רובין (1906־2000) אינטערוויוירט ממש טויזנטער ייִדן וואָס זענען אויפֿגעוואַקסן אין דער אַלטער היים, כּדי צו זאַמלען בײַ זיי פֿאָלקסלידער

במשך פֿון לאַנגע יאָרן האָט זי רעקאָרדירט די דאָזיקע אינטערוויוען, אין וועלכע מע זינגט די לידער אויף אַ קול. די רעקאָרדירונגען האָט מען געמאַכט אויף טאַשמעס, וואָס זענען געלעגן אין די „ייִוואָ‟־אַרכיוון אין ניו־יאָרק; אין דער „נאַציאָנאַלער ביבליאָטעק פֿון מדינת־ישׂראל‟, און אַפֿילו אין אָטאַוואַ, קאַנאַדע

Click here to read more

Leave a comment

Filed under Holocaust in the news, Knowledge entries, Listening materials

When Watching Unbearable Tragedy Is Far Too Bearable — Especially When Ute Lemper Sings

[From Forward]

‘I’m a mother of four children,” Ute Lemper was saying, fingers toying with the handle of her coffee cup, “and singing these songs, telling these terrible destinies and tales of death, is almost impossible.”

Lemper sat across from me at Nice Matin, on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. The lunchtime conversations surrounding us hummed with an energy that felt unique to this day, one of the first that felt like spring; visible through the windows, trees weighed down with white blossoms lent a delirious beauty to 79th Street. It was, altogether, a somewhat jarring environment in which to be discussing Lemper’s current project: a concert of songs written by Jews in concentration camps during the Holocaust.

Unlike many who claim the title “chanteuse,” Lemper, strawberry blonde and dressed with a chic simplicity, lives up to its silky appeal. She’s won acclaim for playing Sally Bowles in “Cabaret” and spent her career, which has taken her through Berlin, Paris, London and New York, in worship of Kurt Weill. In person she comes across as direct and unpredictable, moving with a pantherlike deliberateness. Beyond the glamour, though, she is a professional who wants to do a good job. As she sipped her second cappuccino, she grew eager to ensure that my phone, which I was using to record our interview, captured our conversation over the buzz. She joked, with genuine concern, that if she spoke louder she might hurt her voice.

Click here to read more

Leave a comment

Filed under Holocaust in the news, Listening materials, Other resources

מרדכי געבירטיגס לידער | Mordechai Gebirtig’s songs

דעם שבת פֿאַלט אויס דער 74סטער יאָרצײַט, לויטן סעקולערן קאַלענדאַר, פֿונעם גרויסן ייִדישן פּאָעט מרדכי געבירטיג ז׳׳ל, וועלכער איז אומגעקומען אין דער קראָקאָווער געטאָ, אין 1942.

אַ לעגענדאַרע פּערזענלעכקייט אין דער וועלט פֿון ייִדישער מוזיק בעת זײַן לעבן, איז ער אין דער זעלביקער צײַט געווען צום־מערסטנס אַנאָנים: אַ פּשוטער סטאָליער, וואָס האָט אין זײַן פֿרײַער צײַט געשריבן לידער וועגן די אָרעמע ייִדן פֿון קראָקע, וווּ ער האָט געוווינט זײַן גאַנץ לעבן.

ס׳איז שווער אויף איין פֿוס איבערצוגעבן די וויכטיקייט און השפּעה פֿון געבירטיגס לידער. אויף דעם וואָלט מען געדאַרפֿט אַ גאַנצן אַרטיקל, צי אַ דאָקומענטאַר־פֿילם. ס׳איז כּדאַי פּשוט צו דערמאָנען, אַז פֿון אַרום 100 לידער זײַנע וואָס זענען אונדז פֿאַרבליבן, הערט מען אָפֿט כאָטש אַ טוץ פֿון זיי און זיי בלײַבן צווישן די סאַמע באַקאַנסטע ייִדישע לידער איבער דער גאָרער וועלט.

Click here to read more

Leave a comment

Filed under Holocaust in the news, Knowledge entries, Listening materials, Yiddish materials 2: language and grammar, Yiddish materials 4: primary sources

New opera ‘Out of Darkness’ questions essence of survival

[From website]

Aremembrance-another-sunrise_normal_sizeJake Heggie’s new opera, based on the writings of an Auschwitz survivor, forced the San Francisco composer to deal with the definition of survival and the tremendous pressure on those who survive when others don’t.

“Out of Darkness” is based on the writings and memories of two Holocaust survivors. The first act, “Krystyna,” is the story of Krystyna Zywulska, a Polish dissident who wrote poems of defiance and set them to popular tunes so concentration camp guards would not recognize their cryptic messages. The second act, “Gad,” examines forbidden love between two men in dark times.

The work, subtitled “An Opera of Survival,” has its Bay Area debut May 25 and 26 at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music after making its world premiere a few days earlier in Seattle. It examines what it takes to survive under unbearable circumstances, and how music and poetry can transmit the unspeakable across generational barriers.

“Memory is a very tricky thing,” Heggie said in an interview. “Trying to define dramatic, emotional moments in our life with words is very difficult, which is why songs and opera are the best way to explore, because they give it emotional context.”

Keeping such messages alive is why Mina Miller, the daughter of Holocaust refugees who lost all their family members, in 1998 founded the Seattle-based Music of Remembrance, which commissioned the opera.

Click here to read more

Leave a comment

Filed under Holocaust in the news, Holocaust testimonies, Listening materials, Other resources

Why we should listen to the music of the Holocaust – and that of Syrian refugees

by Ian Biddle

[From The Conversation]

image-20160126-19637-1o7y1vkSinging is perhaps not something that people associate with the Holocaust. But a wealth of music was played and songs sung while victims were interned in the ghettos and camps. Perhaps this marked a desire to maintain continuity with the past, or perhaps it represented a kind of “spiritual resistance” to the systematic dehumanisation. Whatever the reason, the victims left an enormous corpus of music and songs.

Victims sang about their worries, their captors, their lives before internment and their inner emotional worlds. When faced with what must have been a devastating and bewilderingly sudden change to their world, it seems as if they sang endlessly. We need only glance at the enormous body of songs in Yiddish compiled by collectors such as Shmerke Kaczerginski to get a sense of their richness and ingenuity.

Click here to read more

Leave a comment

Filed under Holocaust in the news, Holocaust testimonies, Listening materials

Ironic Inversions: Rare Soviet Yiddish Songs of WWII

[From In Geveb]

At the international symposium “Global Yiddish Culture: 1938-1949,” held at the University of Toronto this spring, singer-songwriter Psoy Korolenko of Moscow and U of T Professor Anna Shternshis brought to life lost Yiddish songs of the Holocaust in an all-new concert and lecture program.

During and immediately after World War II, the Kiev Cabinet for Jewish Culture, led by philologist Elye Spivak and folklorist Moshe Beregovski, began collecting and transcribing original songs composed by Soviet Jewish Holocaust refugees and survivors. But in 1949, before the Cabinet could publish their collection, these rare Yiddish artifacts were confiscated by the Soviet government and hidden from the public. Until recently, that is, when Shternshis found the collection while doing research at the Manuscript Department of the Ukrainian National Library. Shternshis then teamed up with Korolenko to reinterpret and present these songs to new audiences. The Toronto conference was their first time performing this old-new repertoire. Shternshis opened the program by unfolding the dramatic story of this major postwar Soviet collection project, as unfamiliar to many academics in the house as to the rows of community members. As Shternshis told the story of the Cabinet and the Soviet Jews whose songs they recorded, Korolenko interpreted select archival lyrics on vocals and keyboard.

Click here to read more

1 Comment

Filed under Holocaust in the news, Knowledge entries, Listening materials

Hochkarätiges Festival der jüdischen Kultur [High-calibre Festival of Jewish Culture]

[From Deutschlandradio Kultur]

The Yiddish Summer Weimar has now become a permanent fixture on the international festival calendar. For 15 years, there are four-week learning and Concert Festival – and that’s why is the motto is also “Yiddishkayt [in Yiddish lit.: “Yiddishness and/or Jewishness”] Revisited”.

Lunch break in the Ottmar Gerster Music School  in Weimar. The chairs set out in a circle in the auditorium are empty. A man sits at the piano and plays, just for himself. It is Ilya Schneyveys from Riga, professor of Klezmer music. Even as a child he came into contact with the Yiddish language.

“It was the same for my grandfather and my mother. I understand Yiddish because I’ve played a lot of Yiddish music; I haven’t sung so much, but accompanied a lot. I’ve been occupied with Yiddish music for 12 years, or so.”

Since 2006, Ilya has been coming every year to Weimar, to teach and to inform himself about new developments.

Click here to continue reading in the original German or click on “Beitrag hören” to listen to the programme

Leave a comment

Filed under Holocaust in the news, Listening materials, Yiddish materials 4: primary sources

Eine Forschungsreise in Sachen jüdische Musik [A Research journey into Jewish music]

[From Deutschlandradio Kultur]

In Lviv, formerly Lemberg, where 120,000 Jews lived before the Holocaust, and only 800 after 1945.

The cantor Shulamit Lubowska has brought the music of Jewish composers to the Philharmonic in Lviv. During the Soviet era, issues such as the Jewish past were taboo – but now Jewish-Ukrainian songs are to be made audible again.

The Jewish cantor Shulamit Lubowska stands on the stage of the Philharmonic in Lviv. She is one of the soloists, who were on tour in the Ukraine with the Weimar Chamber Choir of the Academy of Music a few months ago .

On the program: music of Jewish composers such as Israel Goldstein, Louis Lewandowski, a Kiddush by Kurt Weill, an Aramaic prayer by Maurice Ravel, works by Meir Finkelstein and many others.

“We want to bring these very consciously Jewish songs to the stage,” says Jascha Nemtsov, a professor of Jewish history of music in Weimar. His goal is to collect Jewish-Ukrainian songs from archives, to explore them and let them be heard once again.

Click here to read in original German

To listen to the programme click on “Beitrag hören” to listen to the programme after clicking on link above


Leave a comment

Filed under Listening materials, Yiddish materials 4: primary sources

A Tribute to the Songs of Women in the Holocaust

[from website]

For You the Sun Will Shine is a collaboration between vocalist Shulamit and musicians Frank London on trumpet and Shai Bachar on piano. The three artists perform are songs written by women during the Holocaust (Shoa).

”My greatest aspiration is for this music to live on as beautiful music, to be appreciated as art,” explains Shulamit. “It’s not about fancy melodies or complicated compositions. It’s about connecting with the immediate circumstances of the women who composed it, and it has the power to move people profoundly.”

Click here to read more.

Leave a comment

Filed under Holocaust in the news, Listening materials

Music used as resistance to the Nazis captures new audiences

[From The Times of Israel]

A sold-out US tour of ‘Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezin’ indicates a growing interest in recovering — and reinterpreting — the productions staged by Holocaust victims as prisoners.

BOSTON – It might be hearing the survivors’ haunting voices, singing Yiddish songs recorded after the Holocaust, or maybe it’s listening to romantic songs from the “cabaret” at Westerbork, where Jews awaited weekly transports to death.

With many back-stories to choose from, a new wave of researchers and artists is elevating “music as resistance” to the forefront of Holocaust education. A leading project is the traveling mega-production called “Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezin,” a memorial concert for the musical prisoners of the Nazi camp Theresienstadt, also known as Terezin, outside Prague.

Launched in 2002, the production hinges on a lavish, full orchestra performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s seminal Requiem, a Roman Catholic funeral mass. It was this complex Latin arrangement that Jewish conductor Raphael Schachter, imprisoned in Theresienstadt, chose to perform with a chorus of 150 fellow prisoners in 1943.

To build their story around the 84-minute Verdi masterpiece, “Defiant Requiem” creators interspersed it with live narration, video testimony from Theresienstadt survivors, and “show” footage shot by Nazis inside the camp. The finished product has been performed more than 30 times around the world, and recently wrapped a coast-to-coast US tour.

Click here to read more

Leave a comment

Filed under Holocaust in the news, Listening materials

1,000 Songs From Holocaust Survivors Archived

[from nprmusic, with thanks to Sebastian Weil for pointing me to this]

In the summer of 1948, an amateur folklorist named Ben Stonehill recorded more than 1,000 songs from Holocaust survivors in the lobby of New York City’s Hotel Marseilles. This week, 66 of those songs become available online through the Center for Traditional Music and Dance, complete with translations; another 300 songs will go up over the next few months — all free for anyone to hear.

Some sing in Russian; some sing in Polish, Czech, Lithuanian, Hebrew. But the majority sing in Yiddish, a language whose speaking population was dramatically reduced during WWII. That loss is a big part of what brought Stonehill to that lobby. He was looking to capture the sound of something he’d feared might disappear.

Miriam Isaacs, a sociolinguist who has been studying the collection, says there’s all kinds of stuff in the music. “There’s babies crying, there’s women giggling, there’s people helping each other out, sometimes joining in song.”

Stonehill described the scene in the lobby of the Hotel Marseilles in a recording he made while practicing for a lecture in 1964.

Boys, girls and mothers would gather about the recorder and beg permission to sing into the microphone in order to hear their own voices played back. The thrill and glow that spread over their faces, and the tears that came to their eyes, was patently an admixture of witnessing an electronic miracle and having the satisfaction of knowing that their intimate, closely guarded songs from home, camp and ghetto were being preserved for academic study.

Click here to read more.

Leave a comment

Filed under Holocaust in the news, Listening materials, Yiddish materials 4: primary sources

Opera from WWII Jewish ghetto performed for first time in Sydney

[from the Sydney Morning Herald]

Brundibar is a short, light-hearted opera written for children. But for Jerry Rind, who was involved in one of the first performances in 1943, it was anything but light-hearted. For Rind, now 90, it was a matter of life and death – literally.
Rind was one of tens of thousands of Jews interned in the town of Terezin, in the north of Czechoslovakia, which was used by the Nazis as a collection camp for victims who were to be sent to Auschwitz. With room for 7000 people or so, at its height there were 55,000 crammed into the ghetto. Some 30,000 died of disease and malnutrition.

Rind laboured in a workshop making bunks and coffins, and it was from there that he stole the wood used to build the set for an illicit performance of Brundibar.

Click here to read more

Leave a comment

Filed under Holocaust in the news, Listening materials

Amid the Rap Music, Echoes of an Orchestra Playing in a Dark Past

[from The New York Times]

BERLIN — AT various points during shows, the German rapper Kutlu Yurtseven gestures to a bandmate sitting demurely off to the side. That’s the cue for 89-year-old Esther Bejarano, a diminutive woman with a snow-white pixie cut, to jump in with a song. “When will the heavens open up, again, for me?” is one favorite, the refrain of a local carnival tune. “When will they open up?”

It is an unusual pairing. Ms. Bejarano is one of the last surviving members of the Auschwitz Girls’ Orchestra, the only all-female ensemble among the many Nazi-run prisoner musical groups in the camp system. Among other duties, the Girls’ Orchestra was responsible for playing the marches that imprisoned women had to keep step to as they went out to work in the morning and, even more cruelly, as they returned, half-dead, at the end of the day.

Five years ago, hoping to reach more young people with her story and her message of tolerance and anti-fascism, Ms. Bejarano teamed up with Microphone Mafia, a German hip-hop duo with Turkish and Italian roots. They have released their first album, and have been playing concerts throughout Germany and Europe ever since.

The music combines songs like the poignant Yiddish resistance song, “We’ll Live Forever,” composed in the Nazi-run Jewish ghetto in Vilna just before it was liquidated, with rap passages about current problems like racism that, in Ms. Bejarano’s view, show that the lessons of the Holocaust still need to be learned.

Click here to read more

Leave a comment

Filed under Holocaust in the news, Listening materials

Audio files from YIVO

There is a very useful colection of audio files (streaming) which you can access via this link. The files include numerous historical recordings of Jewish music in Eastern Europe, music from Yiddish-language films, and traditional Jewish musics from the radio and early television.

Leave a comment

Filed under Listening materials

Florida Atlantic University Jewish Sound Archive

“The Judaica Sound Archives at Florida Atlantic University Libraries is dedicated to bringing the recorded music from the Golden Age of Jewish Music to a new home where its past will be respected and its future assured. In addition to its primary focus of rescuing and preserving 78 rpm records from the first half of the 20th century, the project has expanded its scope to include LPs, tapes, 45s and sheet music.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Listening materials, Other resources

Dartmouth Jewish Sound Archive

The Archive was established in 2002 to provide scholars with: 1.. streamed web-based access to Jewish recordings that are not commercially available. 2.. related, searchable information that can aid in the study of Jewish music and culture, Jewish society, and the history of Jewish recordings. Bona fide researchers may apply for access privileges.

Leave a comment

Filed under Listening materials, Other resources

Jewish music resources online

This site is useful: contains list of online resources for anyone interested in researching Jewish music.

Updated: 7 February 2012

Compiled by Roger Shlomo Harris © 2000-2012

Leave a comment

Filed under Listening materials, Other resources

Viktor Ullmann: Der Kaiser von Atlantis (c. 1943)

A one-act opera with libretto by Peter Klein, written in the Theresienstadt concentration camp. It was rehearsed in 1944 but never performed. Both Ullmann and Klein were murdered at Auschwitz in 1944.

Click here to access excerpts from the opera on youtube

Leave a comment

Filed under Listening materials

Hans Krása: Brundibár (1938-1943)

Opera by Hans Krása, libretto by Adolf Hoffmeister, written in Theresienstadt concentration camp.

The Moran Choir from Israel and the Gewandhaus Childern Choir from Leipzig, and conductors Naomi Faran and Frank-Steffen Elster. Together the two choirs performed the opera in the Gewandhaus hall in Leipzig, the Modern Jewish Museum in Berlin and in the Rishon LeZion central hall in Israel.

This performance recorded at the Gewandhaus Leipzig, March 22, 2010.

Video 1/5

Video 2/5

Video 3/5

Video 4/5

Video 5/5

Leave a comment

Filed under Listening materials

Luigi Nono: Ricorda cosa ti hanno fatto in Auschwitz (1966)

(“Remember What They Did to You in Auschwitz”), a 1966 tape work by the Italian composer Luigi Nono

Leave a comment

Filed under Listening materials

Ödön Partos: Yizkor (in Memoriam) for Cello and Orchestra (1947)

Youtube video of a performance of Hungarian-Israeli composer Ödön Partos’s Yizkor (in Memoriam) (1947)


Filed under Listening materials

Steve Reich: Different Trains (1988)

Different Trains is a three-movement piece for string quartet and tape written by Steve Reich in 1988

Reich, an American composer born in 1936, spent his childhood shuttling by train between his divorced parents’ homes during World War II. After he became a composer, he began to wonder how his life might have been different if he had been a European Jew, rather than an American. He felt that trains might still have played an important part of his life, taking him to a ghetto and an extermination camp. He wrote a unique and interesting composition for string quartet and synthesizers (from the site A Teacher’s Guide to the Holocaust)

Leave a comment

Filed under Listening materials

Krzysztof Penderecki’s Dies Irae (1967)

A memorial to the victims at Auschwitz, Dies Irae allows the singers and players to improvise according to their talents and abilities. The chorus recites words, rather than singing them, and the instruments are the framework for the rhythm and pitch. It was first performed on the grounds of Auschwitz in 1967. (Lamentatio 1/2) (Lamentatio 2/2) (Apocalypsis 1/2) (Apocalypsis 2/3) (Apotheosis)

Leave a comment

Filed under Listening materials

Dmitri Shostakovich: Symphony No 13 in B-flat Minor Op. 113 “Babi Yar” (1962)

Shotakovich’s Symphony, subtitled “Babi Yar”, after the ravine of the same name in Kiev in which the Nazis carried out a series of massacres. In a series of the worse massacres, some 33,000 Jews were killed there. The text is based on a poem by Russian poset Yevteshenko.

Text of original poem here:

No monument stands over Babi Yar.
A steep cliff only, like the rudest headstone.
I am afraid.
Today, I am as old
As the entire Jewish race itself.

I see myself an ancient Israelite.
I wander o’er the roads of ancient Egypt
And here, upon the cross, I perish, tortured
And even now, I bear the marks of nails.

It seems to me that Dreyfus is myself.
The Philistines betrayed me – and now judge.
I’m in a cage. Surrounded and trapped,
I’m persecuted, spat on, slandered, and
The dainty dollies in their Brussels frills
Squeal, as they stab umbrellas at my face.

I see myself a boy in Belostok
Blood spills, and runs upon the floors,
The chiefs of bar and pub rage unimpeded
And reek of vodka and of onion, half and half.

I’m thrown back by a boot, I have no strength left,
In vain I beg the rabble of pogrom,
To jeers of “Kill the Jews, and save our Russia!”
My mother’s being beaten by a clerk.

O, Russia of my heart, I know that you
Are international, by inner nature.
But often those whose hands are steeped in filth
Abused your purest name, in name of hatred.

I know the kindness of my native land.
How vile, that without the slightest quiver
The antisemites have proclaimed themselves
The “Union of the Russian People!”

It seems to me that I am Anna Frank,
Transparent, as the thinnest branch in April,
And I’m in love, and have no need of phrases,
But only that we gaze into each other’s eyes.
How little one can see, or even sense!
Leaves are forbidden, so is sky,
But much is still allowed – very gently
In darkened rooms each other to embrace.

-“They come!”

-“No, fear not – those are sounds
Of spring itself. She’s coming soon.
Quickly, your lips!”

-“They break the door!”

-“No, river ice is breaking…”

Wild grasses rustle over Babi Yar,
The trees look sternly, as if passing judgement.
Here, silently, all screams, and, hat in hand,
I feel my hair changing shade to gray.

And I myself, like one long soundless scream
Above the thousands of thousands interred,
I’m every old man executed here,
As I am every child murdered here.

No fiber of my body will forget this.
May “Internationale” thunder and ring
When, for all time, is buried and forgotten
The last of antisemites on this earth.

There is no Jewish blood that’s blood of mine,
But, hated with a passion that’s corrosive
Am I by antisemites like a Jew.
And that is why I call myself a Russian!

Leave a comment

Filed under Listening materials

Arnold Schoenberg: A Survivor from Warsaw (1947)

Arnold Schoenberg’s cantata performed by Bamberger Symphoniker, conducted by Horst Stein, with Hermann Prey as soloist.

1 Comment

Filed under Listening materials