We'll Never Forget: Music In Remembrance of the Holocaust on WRTI

May 5, 2016

WRTI honors the memory of the victims of the Holocaust, and joins with those in our community who remember them, with special programming throughout the day on Thursday, May 5th. Listen in the 2 pm hour for I Never Saw Another Butterfly by Philadelphia composer Charles Davidson.

This, his best-known work, is a setting of poems by children imprisoned in Theresienstadt; only 100 of the 15,000 children there survived. I Never Saw Another Butterfly has received more than 4,000 performances throughout the world, and is the subject of two PBS documentaries: The Journey of Butterfly and Butterfly Revisited.

In 1991, following the collapse of the communist regime and the birth of the Czech Republic, it was performed at a special ceremony in the town of Terezin, presided over by the new president, Václav Havel, among other dignitaries, and attended by an audience of Holocaust survivors to mark the 50th anniversary of the Germans' creation of the camp and ghetto. Performances followed at Smetana Hall in Prague and the Jesuit Church in Brno. Charles Davidson is the cantor emeritus of Congregation Adath Jeshurun in Elkins Park.

I Never Saw Another Butterfly
- Pavel Friedman, June 1942

The last, the very last,
So richly, brightly, dazzlingly yellow.
Perhaps if the sun's tears would sing against a stone ...
Such, such a yellow
Is carried lightly 'way up high
It went away, I'm sure, because it wished to kiss the world good-bye.
For seven weeks I've lived in here,
Penned up inside this Ghetto.
But I have found what I love here.
The dandelions call to me
And the white chestnut branches in the court.
Only I never saw another butterfly.
The butterfly was the last one.
Butterflies don't live in here.
In the Ghetto.

You'll also hear works by composers that the Nazis considered "dangerous" to the Reich; music labeled "Entartete" or "degenerate" was banned, and many of the composers of those works were imprisoned and killed.

The list of composers and conductors banned by the Nazis is long, and contains some of music's greatest figures.  Felix Mendelssohn was on the list, as were, surprisingly, Cole Porter and Irving Berlin.  Many composers who were living in Germany and Austria, though were banned, and many lost their lives.  Kurt Weill and Erich Wolfgang Korngold are two of the figures who came to the U.S. Those not fortunate enough to leave in time included Franz Schreker, Leon Jessel, Gideon Klein, and Viktor Ullman.  Conductor were not left off the list either, and two of the most famous, Bruno Walter and Otto Klemperer, came to America.

Join us Thursday, May 5th for this special day of remembrance.