Remembering the Unimaginable
by Elisa Birdseye – Boston Musical Intelligencer
The BCC was outstanding, and one couldn’t help appreciating the intensity of the history lesson the students would be absorbing along with their musicianship.
The theme for Friday’s Terezin Music Foundation Gala Symphony Hall concert, “Do not forget me,” came from a letter written by Gideon Klein to his family after he was interned in the “model” concentration camp of Theresienstadt, or Terezin in Czechoslovakia. Terezin served as a way station as Jews were deported from the Nazi conquered lands, before they were sent on to extermination camps such as Auschwitz. So many well-known artists were interned there, that over time, musical performances, theater groups, and other leisure time activities grew up, and a propaganda film was made to delude the Red Cross and the Allies of the true intent of the Final Solution. Of the 87,000 people held at Terezin, only 5% survived.
One of the odd cruelties of the Nuremberg Laws forbade Jews from owning instruments; at one point, Prague held some 23,000 confiscated instruments. Musicians smuggled instruments into the camps, even sawing their cellos in pieces and gluing them back together in order to have the comfort of music.
As composer Viktor Ullman wrote “Our will to create has always been as strong as our will to survive.”
TMF exists to promote performances of music by composers lost in the holocaust, to commission new works in their honor, and to recognize individuals who further understanding and tolerance. It is a mission sorely needed in these troubled times.