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Holocaust Composers’ Work Lives On

Pro Musica Colorado Chamber Orchestra is presenting a chamber music recital, Music Voices, that celebrates excellent music written by three composers who were lost in the Holocaust. The concert will be held on April 2, 2011, at 7:30 pm, with a Pre-Concert Talk at 6:30 pm, at the Cofrin Auditorium, Atlas Building (Room 100), CU Campus (1125 18th Street, Boulder).  Parking is available in the lots across from the school of music.

Some wonderful composers were lost in the Holocaust,” said Cynthia Katsarelis, Music Director of PMC. “These Eastern European composers provide a ‘missing link’ between the Romantic and Modern eras of music.”

Gideon Klein

Gideon Klein was born in 1919 in Prerov, Czechoslovakia and was a Moravian Jew. He studied composition with Alois Haba at the Prague Conservatory and musicology at Charles University in Prague, but was forced to end his studies in 1940 due to the Nuremberg Laws. His works could not be presented, but he performed as a solo pianist under pseudonyms. In December of 1941, he was deported to Theresienstadt. There he continued to compose and organize performances of chamber music until he was moved to Auschwitz, where he perished in the gas chambers at the age of 26.

Klein composed his String Trio in 1944, during his incarceration in the Nazi concentration camp of Theresienstadt. The String Trio was his last composition, completed on October 9, 1944, nine days before he was shipped to Auschwitz. Much like Bartok or Dvorak, Klein uses his native music in this work. The first and third movements of this three-movement reference the folk music of his home region. The second movement is a set of variations on a Moravian folk song.

Pavel Haas

Pavel Haas composed his String Quartet No. 2 (from the Monkey Mountains) in 1922, and it is an early composition. Haas’s style reflects Jewish folksong, Hebrew chant, jazz and polymetric writing. Born in Moravia, Haas studied in Brno, both at the Music School of the Philharmonic Society and at the State Conservatory under Czech composer Leos Janacek. The Nazis deported him to Terezín in 1941, where he was encouraged by Gideon Klein to continue composing. Like Klein, Haas died at Auschwitz in 1944.

Erwin Schulhoff, the oldest and most established of the composers on the program, was born in Prague of Jewish-German origin and studied composition and piano in Prague, Vienna, Leipzig and Cologne with Claude Debussy and Max Reger. His work is informed by many elements of the time: the avant-garde, jazz, Dadaism, folk music, neoclassical, and various forms of dance. Although he was was blacklisted by the Nazis, Schulhoff continued to perform under a pseudonym. In June 1941, Schulhoff was deported to the Wulzburg concentration camp near Weibenburg, Bavaria. He died from tuberculosis on August 18, 1942.

Erwin Schulhoff

Five pieces for String Quartet was premiered on August 8, 1924 at the International Society for New Music Festival in Salzburg. Composed in Prague in December 1923, the piece is dedicated to famed composer Darius Milhaud, a fellow Dadaist. Five pieces for String Quartet, is somewhat neoclassical in nature and contains elements of jazz and dance forms, including a Viennese Waltz and a Tarantella.

The concert will also include the String Quartet No. 8 by Dmitri Shostakovich, a work that is dedicated to all victims of war and fascism. In it, Shostakovich includes Jewish melodies, showing special empathy for the Jewish victims of the Holocaust. Further, Shostakovich is a modern composer whose music is popular with audiences.

I believe that composers such as Gideon Klein, Erwin Schulhoff, and Pavel Haas similarly would have provided the world with music that would have been a welcome addition to the musical voices of the 20th century,” said Katsarelis. “Please join us to celebrate their music, as we wonder what might have been.”

Tickets for the concerts are $20 for adults, $15 for Seniors and a new lowered price of $5 for Students, available online at www.promusicacolorado.org or by calling 303-776-5355. For more information about Pro Musica Colorado Chamber Orchestra and their upcoming concerts, please visit www.promusicacolorado.org.

This concert is supported by the Martin and Gloria Trotsky Fund for Lectures and Performing Arts, and the Department of English at CU, and co-sponsored by the Boulder Jewish Community Center.

About Pro Musica Colorado Chamber Orchestra and Cynthia Katsarelis, Music Director

Pro Musica Colorado Chamber Orchestra debuted in May, 2007, has many of Colorado’s finest musicians, and is committed to impassioned performances of repertoire ranging from the classic to the cutting edge.

Cynthia Katsarelis has served as Conducting Assistant with the Cincinnati Symphony, Pops and May Festival, and Associate Conductor with the Greensboro (N.C.) Symphony. She has conducted many professional, college, and youth orchestras. She assisted James Conlon, Keith Lockhart, Erich Kunzel and Michael Christie, most recently conducting the offstage brass and percussion for CMF’s performances of Mahler’s Second Symphony. Katsarelis is a graduate of Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University, where she studied both violin and conducting.

About Kathryn Bernheimer

Kathryn Bernheimer
Director of Menorah: Arts, Culture and Education at the Boulder JCC. The former film and theater critic for the Boulder Daily Camera, Kathryn is the author of "The Fifty Greatest Jewish Movies" and "The Fifty Funniest Films of All Time."

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