Ghetto Theresienstadt was an exception among the ghettoes and so Beit Theresienstadt, too, is taking its special place. The ghetto was exceptional through the internal organization of its prisoner’s life, including their leisure time. There was instruction for children and youth, sport for youngsters and many cultural events for all, among these were musical performances and concerts. To the artists in the ghetto belonged musicians and composers whose inspiration did not wane even under the horrible conditions of imprisonment. Music created in the ghetto and also composers whose works the Nazis did not allow to perform was the subject of the ninth international annual seminar “History, Music and Remembrance”, held every summer in Beit Theresienstadt. In 2009 the seminar was held on August 2nd – 7th.
“Theresienstadt music is not only some kind of internal ghetto music” said Oded Breda, director of Beit Theresienstadt, “ this is music of a universal character. In the ghetto some of the greatest musical talents of Europe were concentrated, in various fields. These people, like Viktor Ullmann, Pavel Haas, Hans Krasa, Gideon Klein, Rafael Schaechter and others could have been and were among the greatest musicians of the 20th century. In the ghetto and also before they created and performed various musical works, among the best world-wide. Music in the ghetto was the expression of Jewish resistance in face of their desperate situation”, Breda added. “It was performed for a cultural and music-loving audience. Under the constant threat of transports that took away every second Jew arriving in the ghetto to the extermination camps in the East, music became a central motive in this ‘life as if’ that the Jews tried to live, to survive those days and to live to see the longed-for liberation”.
The seminar strives to pass this heritage to young students of music academies in Israel and abroad. In addition to master classes held at the seminar, they listen to testimonies and lectures on the ghetto, its prisoners and the music created and performed there. The master classes and lectures are open to the public.
“Music, in this case, is a tool for commemoration and for the creation of an awareness in our target audience – youth”, says Dr. Dudu Sella, musical director of the seminar. The team of instructors included this time Prof. Matitjahu Kellig, Germany, Allan Sternfield and Michael Geizler from the Jerusalem Music Academy. “Winter Journey” by Schubert was the focus at the composer’s workshop of the seminar. The workshop, a permanent element of the seminar, was led by Dr. Michael Wolpe from Sde Boker , assisted by the teacher Dr. Ari Ben-Shabetai
At the conclusion of the seminar 2 concerts for the public were performed – one for residents of Emek Hefer in the “Bayit Bakfar” hall of Bitan Aharon; the second, in cooperation with Yad Vashem, at the “Center of Wolynian Jewry” in Givatayim. The Seminar was supported by the Culture Administration at the Ministry of Culture & sport