Track of the Month: December
You are listening to "Fantasie and Fuga" (Terezin, 1943) by Gideon Klein, performed by the Hawthorne String Quartet.
GIDEON KLEIN (Prerov, Czechoslovakia 1919 - Furstengrubbe Concentration Camp, December, 1945) enrolled in 1939 as a doctoral candidate in musicology and philosophy at Prague's Charles University while continuing his studies in composition at the Prague Conservatory. In 1940 the Nazi occupation and the enforcement of Nuremberg Racial Laws put an end to these studies as well as to Klein's performances as a pianist (though for a while he continued to perform secretly under the name Karel Vranek).
Klein was among the first to be sent to Terezin, where, incarcerated with many other artists, composers, and writers, he soon became an extraordinary force as a pianist, educator, conductor, and composer. But this exceptional creative activity — in the midst of horror and deprivation — was short-lived. Like nearly all who survived Terezin, Klein was set to other camps: first to Auschwitz and finally to Furstengrubbe, where he died in late January 1945.
We will never know how many of Gideon Klein's compositions have been lost, but those that survive reveal the influences of Janacek and Schoenberg and a blend of expressive folk elements from Klein's Moravian background. His works display a deeply mature and creative command of technique, theme, and tonal texture. Renowned conductor Kark Alcerl wrote, "Had he survived, Gideon would have achieved the highest standard as pianist, composer, and conductor."