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Jessica Duchen
Sunday 13th June 2010
Tales from Terezin

Next weekend the Nash Ensemble will be giving a special mini-festival of music, talks and films focusing on the music of Terezin (Theresienstadt) at the Wigmore Hall. There'll be discussions with some of the survivors, showings of original film footage plus a documentary by Simon Broughton, an exhibition of children's drawings from the ghetto, and a chance to hear and celebrate the music of a lost generation of composers who should have been the successors to Janacek: Gideon Klein, Viktor Ullmann, Pavel Haas and Hans Krasa - as well as the heartbreaking songs of the nurse Ilse Weber, who went with the orphans she cared for to the gas chambers of Auschwitz. Don't miss it!

Tickets for the entire weekend are £50 (including top-price seats for the evening concerts). More info & booking on the Wigmore's site here.

I've written a piece about it for the JC, which you can read here. Wolfgang Holzmair and Simon Broughton talked to me about their impressions of why, 70-odd years on, this great music is still struggling for recognition and continues to be, in some ways, confined to a ghetto. It's not a pretty tale.

Both Simon and the cellist Paul Watkins singled out Gideon Klein as the composer they felt would have become the most significant figure of his generation. Here is a deeply moving personal memoir, "I remember Gideon Klein", from George J. Horner, via the Terezin Chamber Music Foundation.

And here is the opening of Klein's String Trio played by the Jacques Thibaud Trio, a dynamic young group from Berlin.

Last but by no means least, The Observer today runs a must-read feature by Ed Vulliamy, who went to Terezin to look round and met some of the survivors in Prague, as well as Alice Sommer Herz in Belsize Park. 

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About Jessica Duchen

Jessica Duchen is a music journalist and the author of four novels, two biographies and several stage works. She writes regularly for The Independent and BBC Music Magazine. Her latest novel, Songs of Triumphant Love, is published by Hodder.

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