Festival Cornerstones – Theresienstadt Composers, Theresienstadt, Prague

THERESIENSTADT COMPOSERS: Viktor Ullmann (1898–1942), Gideon Klein (1919–1945), Hans Krása (1899–1944) and Pavel Haas (1899–1944) will always remain united by the place where they awaited deportation to an extermination camp, but were still allowed to compose. The concentration camp in Theresienstadt was that place. Musicologists do not hesitate to speak highly of their works and appreciate them as highly distinct music, which may, however, sound rather sporadic in a live performance.

PRAGUE: A centre of music with remarkable tradition having all it takes to be the best venue of the Eternal Hope festival. A venue where a number of outstanding artists were active. Hans Krása introduced his Opus No. 1 in Prague in 1921. Gideon Klein was a student of Alois Hába. Viktor Ullmann was active (1919-1927) in the same institution as Gustav Mahler.

TEREZÍN: An impregnable fortress for 5,000 soldiers used as a concentration camp by the Nazis for over 60,000 Jews; Theresienstadt was not equipped with extermination technology (to kill people and burn dead bodies). In the few spare moments, amidst permanent degradation, within the walls of a prison, and at gunpoint of the guards, it was still possible to experience short spans of classical music concerts and opera performances. Consequently, the composers wrote as much material as possible, knowing the end was near. Theresienstadt is a symbol of a place where the music for the future was created within a nearly tangible presence of death.

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