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International Gathering, March 23-25

U.Va. Conference Gives Voice To Music Silenced By Hitler

February 16, 2001-- During the course of World War II, the Nazis successfully used their control of music and the arts as a powerful propaganda weapon against those aspects of German cultural life they hated most. In terms of music, this eclectic blacklist included compositions from Europe’s modernism movement, music written by Jewish composers, music containing explicit sexuality, black jazz, and any piece written in opposition to Nazi ideology.

Calling on a combination of racial doctrine, Wagnerian anti-Semitism, and their own belief of Aryan supremacy, the Third Reich sought to destroy every form of music it had branded with the term Entartete Musik (degenerate music) during the period that led to World War II. Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels worked closely to formulate a plan that would erase this music from the face of the earth.

Through their efforts, a generation of musical innovation and promise was not only abruptly curtailed in Europe, but excluded from its rightful status in history. What should have been the dawning of a thrilling new phase of musical evolution, instead fell silent under the dark shadows of the swastika.

The Music Suppressed by the Third Reich International Conference will feature a gathering of international scholars and musicians to lead seminars and give performances on the grounds of the University of Virginia on March 23 through 25.

The conference was planned by fourth-year music major Benjamin Levy, who began researching the topic last fall while taking a class entitled the Music of World War II with U.Va. Professor Scott DeVeaux. After receiving two grants to organize a one-time concert of music banned in Nazi Germany, the project slowly grew into an international conference. Over the past 13 months, Levy raised approximately $40,000 to bring together some of the world’s most renowned Holocaust music researchers and performers. Some of the works to be explored during the conference were performed before World War II and then banned by the Nazis, some were premiered behind barbed-wire fences to audiences in concentration camps, while still others have never before been publicly performed.

On Friday, March 23, at 2 p.m., musicologists, internationally acclaimed musicians and conductors, researchers from the U.S. Holocaust Museum, and Jewish historians will participate in a panel discussion in the Rotunda to investigate the Nazi impact on the development of music in Europe and America. Speeches, archival presentations, panel discussions, and musical performances will continue throughout the weekend.

The conference speakers include:

Ÿ Mark Ludwig, who received a Fulbright Fellowship to digitally record the Terezin music archives and is director of the Terezin Chamber Music Foundation, will give a talk focusing on music composed and performed in the Terezin concentration camp, including the children’s opera entitled Brundibar by Hans Krása.

Ÿ Bret Werb, music researcher at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, will lecture on his Holocaust music research.

Ÿ Michael Haas, executive producer of London/Decca Records’ Entartete Musik Series, will discuss the Entartete Musik recording series that he produced.

Ÿ Gottfried Wagner, great-grandson of the composer Richard Wagner and a musicologist in Milan, Italy, will give a speech investigating the anti-semetic influences of Wagner on Hitler’s Nazi ideology towards music in the Third Reich.

Ÿ Erik Levi, University of London Royal Holloway, will give a paper on the problems encountered by German Jewish emigrants trying to make musical careers in the United Kingdom after 1933.

Ÿ Susan Cook, University of Wisconsin-Madison, will present her research on the banned operas of Ernst Krenek and Kurt Weill.

Ÿ Jessica Wiederhorn, Shoah Foundation, will introduce Terezin survivors who will lecture during the conference. These survivors are among those interviewed by the Shoah Foundation for Steven Spielberg’s film documentary project.

Ÿ Abraham Peck, University of Southern Maine, and Gottfried Wagner will lecture together on the relationship between Germans and Jews after 1945.

Ÿ Martin Goldsmith, founding host and executive producer of National Public Radio's Performance Today, will discuss his new book about his parents entitled "The Inextinguishable Symphony: A True Story of Music and Love in Nazi Germany."

CONCERT SCHEDULE

A Gala Concert is scheduled to take place in Old Cabell Hall Auditorium Saturday, March 24, at 8:15 p.m., and will feature the Hawthorne String Quartet, from the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and violinist Miriam Kramer from London.

Not only will this be the largest conference of its kind ever held in the United States, but it will also offer a rare opportunity to attend live performances by the Hawthorne String Quartet, which has recorded all of the Terezin chamber music for London/Decca Records’ Entartete Musik series.

Music performances by others during the conference include:

Ÿ The Hawthorne String Quartet will perform music written in concentration camps such as Terezin (Theresienstadt) and Auschwitz by composers Viktor Ullmann, Hans Krása, and Gideon Klein.

Ÿ The Free Bridge Quintet, the University of Virginia’s faculty jazz quintet, will perform swing music during a Friday evening dinner reception.

Ÿ Violinist Miriam Kramer (London, England) will perform Kurt Weill’s violin concerto with the U.Va. Faculty Wind Orchestra and Maestro Michael Lewanski (Yale University).

Ÿ Soprano vocalist Joy Bogen, who was Lotte Lenya’s (Kurt Weill’s wife) only student, will perform selections from Kurt Weill’s Marie Galante Suite, which Weill composed while fleeing the Nazis in France.

Ÿ Soprano vocalists Star Trompeter and Agnes Liou will perform selections from two operas: Ernst Krenek’s Jonny spielt auf and Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s Das Wander der Heliane. Jonny spielt auf was an opera whose importance as a work of degenerate music stood unparalleled during the reign of the Third Reich.

Ÿ Pianist Kuang-Hao Huang will perform Vitezslava Kapralova’s Dubnova Preludia Suite for solo piano Kapralova was a Jewish Czech composer who was killed while attempting to escape the Nazis in France.

Ÿ The U.Va. Opera Workshop Ensemble will perform the final scene from Brundibar, the children’s opera written by the Czech composer Hans Krása in the concentration camp of Terezin, whose finale was filmed in the infamous Nazi propaganda film, Der Gubrer schenkt den Juden eine Stadt.

Following a musical presentation at Terezin to the International Committee of the Red Cross in June 1944, the "model ghetto was deemed to have outlived its usefulness," and on Oct. 16, almost all of the composers and artists in the camp were sent to the gas chambers of Auschwitz. Composers such as Viktor Ullmann, Hans Krása, Pavel Haas, Ervin Schulhoff and Gideon Klein were among some 35,000 artists and musicians who perished in Terezin.

CONFERENCE SPONSORS

The conference sponsored by the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music, the Shoah Foundation, the Terezin Chamber Music Foundation, the Anti-Defamation League, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, and Hillel International. Other sponsors include the Samuel Bronfman Foundation, the Byck Foundation, the U.Va. McIntire Department of Music, the U.Va. Judaic Studies Program, the U.Va. History Department, the U.Va. French Department, the U.Va. College of Arts and Sciences, the Raven Society, the Jefferson Literary and Debating Society, the Music Department at George Washington University, the Judaic Studies Program at George Washington University, and the University of Richmond Music Department.

CONFERENCE INFORMATION

Registration for the conference is $40 for adults and $5 for students. Meals are available for an additional fee.

Online registration information is available at www.virginia.edu/music/holocaust or call (800) 346-3882 or (804) 982-5297 or e-mail uvaseminars@virginina.edu.

Contact: Jane Ford, (804) 924-4298

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Contact the Office of University Relations at (804) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (804) 924-7550.
SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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