Track of the Month: January
In honor of Auschwitz Liberation Day & International Holocaust Remembrance Day, January 27.
"By no means did we sit weeping on the banks of the waters of Babylon. Our endeavor with respect to arts was commensurate with our will to live." — Viktor Ullmann, Terezin composer
YOU ARE LISTENING to the first movement of String Quartet No. 3, Op. 46, composed in Terezin by Viktor Ullmann, a prolific Czech artist who perished in Auschwitz. Ullmann completed this work on January 18, 1943, when he was about 43 years old. This Quartet is widely regarded as the instrumental masterpiece of Ullmann's Terezin period. It is performed here by the Hawthorne String Quartet on the CD "Concert for Terezin," produced in 2002 by Terezin Music Foundation and Turquoise Bee Productions as a benefit for Terezin flood relief.
Ullmann achieved renown in his lifetime as a pianist and composer. He studied with Schönberg in Vienna and with Zemlinsky in Prague, and he worked as a conductor in Zurich. He fled Germany in 1933 and returned to Prague, where he worked as a music teacher and critic and studied at the Prague Conservatory.
On September 8, 1942, Ullmann was deported to Terezin. At that time his list of works had reached 41 opus numbers and included three additional piano sonatas, song cycles, operas, and the piano concerto Op. 25, which he finished in 1939, nine months after the Nazis entered Prague.
In Terezin, Ullmann was a major cultural force as a composer, pianist, and mentor. He also organized a chamber music series, The Studio for Neue Musik, showcasing music of twentieth-century masters, such as Schöberg, Zemlinsky, and Haba, alongside works of his imprisoned colleagues. On October 16, 1944, Ullmann was deported to Auschwitz; he was killed in the gas chambers there on October 18.
More music from Terezin is here.