• WDCH
  • LOS ANGELES PHILHARMONIC REVIVES "SILENCED VOICES" OF COMPOSERS PERSECUTED AND MURDERED BY NAZI REGIME
  • Oct. 19, 2004
  • Initiative features James Conlon conducting two weeks of subscription programs and an opera performance, Philharmonic musicians playing rarely heard chamber music, and panelists discussing cultural and historical context of the Third Reich

    OCTOBER 19-NOVEMBER 9, 2004

    October 19 and 21 events sponsored by the Ziegler Family Trust, with additional support from the Jewish Community Foundation; Media support provided by K-Mozart 105.1 FM

    Following the successful projects of its inaugural season in Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Los Angeles Philharmonic undertakes its "Silenced Voices" project, an exploration of music by composers whose music was forbidden by the Nazi regime, with a series of events in October and November 2004. Under the guidance of esteemed American conductor James Conlon, Silenced Voices features music by Jewish composers active in Central Europe during the 1920s and '30s - Erwin Schulhoff, Viktor Ullmann, and Gideon Klein - as well as by two Jewish composers of earlier eras, Gustav Mahler and Felix Mendelssohn. The rarely heard works by Schulhoff, Ullmann, and Klein brought to light by this initiative enrich our understanding of the prolific and variegated musical culture of Central Europe between the two World Wars, broadening the context for works by a wide variety of music already firmly ensconced in the repertory.

    "I believe that this entire lost generation embodies a spirit that needs to be heard," explains Conlon. "The creativity of the first half of the 20th century is far richer than we think. Alongside Stravinsky, Strauss, and other major figures, the varied voices of those composers from Berlin, Vienna, Prague, and Budapest reveal much about the musical ferment of their time. Their music is accessible and relevant, and I hope that it will find its place in the standard repertoire."

    The composers featured as part of Silenced Voices all wrote music proscribed by Nazi cultural policies. Nazis applied the term Entartete (degenerate) to any manifestation of modern culture they believed exhibited symptoms of moral or spiritual decay. For music, this meant that any composer who employed atonal or serial techniques, mimicked jazz, or was Jewish was targeted for persecution. The effect of this cultural crackdown was profound and tragic, forcing a generation of composers to either flee Europe or fall silent.

    The Philharmonic's exploration of these Silenced Voices begins on October 19, with a performance of Viktor Ullmann's satirical opera Der Kaiser von Atlantis (The Emperor of Atlantis) at Wilshire Boulevard Temple. Ullmann was interned at Terezín (Theresienstadt), the Germans' "model camp" in the modern-day Czech Republic, where he was in charge of cultural activities. He composed Der Kaiser in that capacity, but its critical tone - the central figure, Emperor Overall, brings so much pain and misery into the world that Death arrives to take everyone, the Emperor included, away - came to the attention of the SS and the work was suppressed during rehearsals. It was first performed in Amsterdam in 1975; for these performances, James Conlon conducts an instrumental ensemble from the Los Angeles Philharmonic and singers from the Juilliard School in a staged production conceived and directed by Edward Berkeley.

    On October 21, at the Irmas Campus of Wilshire Boulevard Temple, a distinguished panel discusses the idea of Silenced Voices, delving deeply into the context in which this music was created. Conductor James Conlon joins Rabbi Steven Z. Leder (Rabbi at the Wilshire Boulevard Temple and the author of the recently published book The Extraordinary Nature of Ordinary Things), Rabbi Gary Greenbaum (Western Regional Director of the American Jewish Committee and a regular guest on KCRW's Which Way L.A.? ), and Dr. Gary Schiller (Professor of Medicine at UCLA, Chairman of the Board of the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust, and Past President of Second Generation: Groups for Children of Holocaust Survivors).

    October 23 and 24, the project continues with Conlon leading the Philharmonic in a program at Walt Disney Concert Hall combining Viktor Ullmann's Symphony No. 2 with Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 1. Ullmann's Symphony has been reconstructed from the score of a piano sonata he composed in Terezín. He wrote many indications on the sonata delineating how he would rework it for orchestra; tragically, his deportation to Auschwitz and murder there in October 1944 meant that he could never see those plans through. Mahler, like Ullmann, was born in Bohemia, and Ullmann's fate could have been Mahler's but for the fact that Mahler was born 38 years earlier. Mahler's Jewish background meant that his music, too, was banned by the Nazis.

    On October 29, 30, and 31, Conlon conducts the Philharmonic in a program featuring music by Erwin Schulhoff, Felix Mendelssohn, and Antonín Dvorák. Schulhoff's Jazz Suite, Op. 37, exemplifies the type of progressive music - in this case, combining elements of jazz and expressionism - that the Nazis found so threatening to their culture. Mendelssohn's music was also banned - though a Protestant in practice, his family's Jewish background made him a posthumous target. He is represented on the program by his Second Piano Concerto, with soloist Jonathan Biss making his Philharmonic debut. The program concludes with Dvorák's Symphony No. 7; Dvorák was responsible for "discovering" Schulhoff as a child and getting him enrolled in the Prague Conservatory.

    The final Silenced Voices event, on November 9, features members of the Philharmonic performing chamber music by Schulhoff, Ullmann, and Mendelssohn as well as works by Gideon Klein and Bohuslav Martinu. Klein, who was born in 1919, was on the brink of making his professional debut when the Nazis occupied Czechoslovakia. He spent the rest of his life interned in several concentration camps, including Terezín, where he composed his Fantasy and Fugue for String Quartet, one of the works featured on this program. Martinu also ran afoul of the Nazis when he joined the Czech resistance as a cultural attaché - his music was banned as a result, and he went into exile, first to France, then to the U.S. He composed his Three Madrigals for Violin and Viola, also on this program, while living in New York.

    Conductor JAMES CONLON has spent most of the last two decades in Europe, serving as Principal Conductor of the Paris National Opera (1995-2004); General Music Director of the city of Cologne, Germany (1989-2002); and Music Director of the Rotterdam Philharmonic (1983-1991). Conlon will become Music Director of the Ravinia Festival beginning in 2005, and has been Music Director of the Cincinnati May Festival since 1979. Since his New York Philharmonic debut in 1974, Conlon has appeared with virtually every major North American and European orchestra. Last season, he conducted concerts featuring the works of Erwin Schulhoff at Lincoln Center in New York and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., as well as at the 92nd Street Y in New York, part of the Silenced Voices project, conceived by Conlon and initiated during the 2002/2003 season to raise public consciousness of the significance of works of composers whose lives were affected by the Holocaust. Conlon has recorded extensively; recent projects include his award-winning Zemlinsky series for EMI and works by Ullmann and Schulhoff for Capriccio.

    EDITORS PLEASE NOTE:

    TUESDAY, OCTOBER 19, 2004, 8:00 p.m.

    Wilshire Boulevard Temple

    3663 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles

    LOS ANGELES PHILHARMONIC NEW MUSIC GROUP

    SINGERS FROM THE JUILLIARD SCHOOL

    JAMES CONLON, conductor

    Production conceived and directed by EDWARD BERKELEY

    ULLMANN Der Kaiser von Atlantis (The Emperor of Atlantis)

    THURSDAY, OCTOBER 21, 2004, 7:30 p.m.

    Irmas Campus of Wilshire Boulevard Temple

    11661 W. Olympic Boulevard, Los Angeles

    PANEL DISCUSSION with James Conlon, Rabbi Steven Z. Leder, Rabbi Gary Greenbaum, and Dr. Gary Schiller

    SATURDAY, OCTOBER 23, 2004, 2:00 p.m.

    SUNDAY, OCTOBER 24, 2:00 p.m.

    Walt Disney Concert Hall

    111 S. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles

    LOS ANGELES PHILHARMONIC

    JAMES CONLON, conductor

    ULLMANN Symphony No. 2

    MAHLER Symphony No. 1

    FRIDAY, OCTOBER 29, 2004, 8:00 p.m.

    SATURDAY, OCTOBER 30, 8:00 p.m.

    SUNDAY, OCTOBER 31, 2:00 p.m.

    Walt Disney Concert Hall

    111. S. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles

    LOS ANGELES PHILHARMONIC

    JAMES CONLON, conductor

    JONATHAN BISS, piano

    SCHULHOFF Jazz Suite, Op. 37

    MENDELSSOHN Piano Concerto No. 2 in D minor, Op. 40

    DVORÁK Symphony No. 7 in D minor, Op. 70

    TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2004, 8:00 P.M.

    Walt Disney Concert Hall

    111 S. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles

    MEMBERS OF THE LOS ANGELES PHILHARMONIC

    SCHULHOFF Concertino for Flute, Viola, and Double Bass

    MARTINU Madrigals for Violin and Viola

    ULLMANN String Quartet No. 3

    KLEIN Fantasy and Fugue for String Quartet

    MENDELSSOHN Piano Trio in C minor, Op. 66

    October 19 and 21 events sponsored by the Ziegler Family Trust, with additional support from the Jewish Community Foundation; Media support provided by K-Mozart 105.1 FM

    Upbeat Live pre-concert events take place one hour prior to each Los Angeles Philharmonic concert in BP Hall at Walt Disney Concert Hall, and are free to all ticket holders. Oct. 23 and 24: JAMES CONLON in conversation with Philharmonic President DEBORAH BORDA. Oct. 29-31: Philharmonic program annotator JOHN MANGUM hosts.

    Tickets ($15 - $125) are on sale now at the Walt Disney Concert Hall box office, online at LAPhil.com, or via credit card phone order at 323.850.2000. When available, choral bench seats ($15), will be released for sale to selected Philharmonic, Colburn Celebrity Recital, and Baroque Variations performances beginning at noon on the Tuesday of the second week prior to the concert. A limited number of $10 rush tickets for seniors and full time students may be available at the Walt Disney Concert Hall box office two hours prior to the performance. Valid identification is required; one ticket per person; cash only. Groups of 12 or more may be eligible for special discounts for selected concerts and seating areas. For all information, please call 323.850.2000.

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  • contact:

    Rachelle Roe, 213.972.7310; for photos: 213.972.3448