to commemorate Kristallnacht, November 9, 2022
Here is the Fantasie from Fantasie and Fuga, composed in Terezin in 1943 by Gideon Klein, performed by the Hawthorne String Quartet.
GIDEON KLEIN (Prerov, Czechoslovakia 1919 - Fürstengrube Concentration Camp, January, 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.
Klein was among the first to be sent to Terezin, where he soon became a major force as a pianist, teacher, conductor and composer. In his Terezín concert critiques (newly published in OUR WILL TO LIVE), composer and scholar Viktor Ullmann wrote,
Gideon Klein was at the peak of his ability . . . [and] is without doubt a very important talent. . . . He masters even the difficult piano passages with energy and reliable stylistic insight . . . [and] fresh, assertive playing.
In 1944, Klein was sent to Auschwitz and finally to Fürstengrube, where he died in late January 1945. His enduring compositions reveal the influences of Janacek and Schoenberg and a blend of expressive folk elements from his Moravian background — and display a deeply mature and creative command of technique, theme and tonal texture.
Survivors remember Klein as "our own Leonard Bernstein." Renowned conductor and Terezín and Auschwitz survivor Karel Alcerl wrote, "Had he survived, Gideon would have achieved the highest standard as pianist, composer, and conductor."
More music from and inspired by Terezín is here.