Leeds College of Music in West Yorkshire, England, is launching a Terezin Music Hub in February 2012. According to a press release from Leeds, “The Hub will aim to provide a focal point in the UK for the study of music and musicians interned at the Terezin (Theresienstadt) concentration camp during WWII, through creative practice, research and collaboration. It will also encompass related disciplines, including music during the Holocaust in particular and creativity in adversity in general.”
When I first heard about this I was a little disturbed. Something about it sounded off to me but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Then I realized it was the wording of it in the Yorkshire Evening Post:
“The college is aiming to become a world centre for the study and promotion of music during the Holocaust, as well as creativity in adversity in general.”
Seeing the word ‘promotion’ coupled with ‘Holocaust’ was a bit too crass for me. But I wanted to know more so I looked in other places, most importantly straight from the source—Leeds College—and discovered it’s actually a wonderful idea that is going to enhance the future of the study of music. Especially studying the idea of creativity during adversity.
The Hub will kick off at an international conference at Leeds on February 26 and 27, 2012. The Ambassador to the Czech Republic (where Terezin was located) has agreed to be the Hub’s Honorary Patron (whatever that means). The conference will commemorate what would have been the 100th birthday of Eliska Kleinova, sister of composer and pianist Gideon Klein, who played a seminal role in Terezin’s cultural life. Gideon was murdered in Auschwitz; his sister survived Terezin and Auschwitz and died in 1999. Professor Eliska Kleinova was a highly respected musician based in Prague.
The focus of the conference will be on musical performance and composition in Terezin. Klein’s Piano Sonata, which he wrote and dedicated to his sister, will be performed.
I’ve written before about a woman who survived by playing piano in the orchestra at Terezin. Her name is Alice Herz-Sommer and at 107 she’s the oldest living Holocaust survivor today.