Holocaust

Three of the 20th century's greatest musicians all died on October 17, 1944 - and all at the hands of the Nazis. Czech composers Viktor Ullmann, Pavel Haas, and Hans Krasa all perished at Auschwitz (see videos of their music below); they were all taken there just three days after their final concert together on October 14, 1944 at the Theresienstadt concentration camp.

A recent recording of an opera that premiered in 1937 shines a light on a Polish composer. He survived the Holocaust, but emerged from hiding only to shun his earlier success. WRTI’s Susan Lewis has more on Joseph Beer.

Despite being a Polish Jew, 17-year-old aspiring composer Joseph Beer won admission in 1925 to the prestigious Hochschule fur Musik in Vienna, which had a quota for both Jews and Poles. He was also allowed to skip the first four years of the curriculum to study composition in master classes, and went on to graduate with highest honors.

It was 1930, two years before Hitler became chancellor of Germany.

On June 10th, 1942, Nazis swept in and obliterated the village outside of Prague. They killed the men, sent the women and most of the children to concentration camps, and burnt or leveled the entire town—even the cemetery.

WRTI honors the memory of the victims of the Holocaust, and joins with those in our community who remember them, with special music throughout the day on Monday, April 24th.

A remarkable physician and pianist now living in Newtown Square, PA continues to affect the lives of all those he touches. On this week's Philadelphia Music Makers, you'll hear his story and his music. Tune in on Sunday, November 16 at 5 pm for this special show at 90.1 FM or online at wrti.org

A Holocaust Tale Unfolds On Two Levels

Feb 1, 2014

Composer Dmitri Shostakovich called it a perfect masterpiece without ever having seen it performed. The Passenger, an opera about the Holocaust, was written nearly half a century ago, but was only given its first full performance just three years ago.

Now it's getting its U.S. premiere at the Houston Grand Opera. The opera is based on a story by a Holocaust survivor, with music by Mieczyslaw Weinberg, a composer who lost his entire family in the Nazi death camps.

Amnon Weinstein first encountered a violin from the Holocaust 50 years ago. He was a young violin maker in Israel, and a customer brought him an old instrument in terrible condition and wanted it restored.

The customer had played on the violin on the way to the gas chamber, but he survived because the Germans needed him for their death camp orchestra. He hadn't played on it since.

"So I opened the violin, and there inside there [were] ashes," Weinstein says.