Music composed by Auschwitz prisoners to debut next week after near-decade of restoration
New York Daily News November 25, 2023
(Tribune News Service) — Music composed by Auschwitz prisoners during the Holocaust will finally see the light of day next week.
“Orchestras of Auschwitz” will feature four of the more than 200 pieces discovered in 2015 by conductor-composer Leo Geyer when he visited the death camp in formerly Nazi Germany-occupied Poland that year, following the death of British historian and Holocaust expert Martin Gilbert, CNN reports.
“There were, at one point, as many as six orchestras at Auschwitz and they were all very much sanctioned by the SS and in some cases commissioned by the SS,” explained Geyer, noting that prisoner orchestras existed at a majority of the camps. Some of those were secret operations, and even featured “musical cryptograms,” as a form of rebellion.
They were generally small and featured “a bizarre hodge podge of instruments,” based on what was available to the prisoners. Orchestra staples like woodwinds were not present, while instruments that would rarely be seen in orchestras, such as accordions and saxophones, were frequently featured in the camps’ orchestras.
Unlike most of the victims and prisoners of Auschwitz, Geyer is not Jewish. He embarked upon the visit in search of a “sense of the gravity” of Gilbert’s work.
An archivist at the museum and memorial alerted Geyer to the surviving scores.
“The music had been mostly destroyed so what remains is almost like a broken jigsaw puzzle, except there are several and they are all mixed in together,” said Geyer.
The music Geyer will debut next week as part of his Constella Music’s 10th anniversary concert will remain faithful to what prisoners had available to them, and are meant to “raise awareness and funding so that we can finish the rest of the job and present the full series so that people can hear this music around the world.”
Geyer’s efforts are being realized amid a global spike in antisemitism, fueled by the Israel-Hamas war that began last month.
©2023 New York Daily News.
Visit at nydailynews.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.