Leeds music centre to open Terezin hub

By Jonathan Kalmus, September 1, 2011
Ambassador Žantovský

Ambassador Žantovský

Classical music composed by Jewish inmates of a Nazi concentration camp will form the basis of a new international research centre promoting music which defies oppression.

The Terezin Music Hub at the Leeds College of Music will be opened in February by the Czech Republic's ambassador to the UK, once the Czech ambassador to Israel, Michael Žantovský, together with a Theresienstadt camp survivor.

The centre is to lead research into the work of elite Czech Jewish musicians, such as Gideon Klein, who composed major classical works to bring hope to camp inmates amid appalling conditions.

The Nazis famously forced the musicians to perform for the Red Cross in 1944 during a successful deception to disprove claims of war crimes.

The Leeds hub will be launched with an international research conference of scholars of Terezin music.

“Klein would have been one of the greatest”

Speakers include American conductor Murry Sidlin, whose orchestra has performed three times at Terezin, returning with surviving choir singers who had performed for SS officers and the Red Cross inspectors.

The research centre is being steered by Dr David Fligg, principal lecturer in classical music at the college, who is also writing a biography of Gideon Klein.

He said: "We want eventually to offer postgraduate courses, where students can specialise, not only in Holocaust-related music, but also in creativity in adversity.

"For me, as a Jew, this hub is hugely important to bear witness to the Holocaust. As a musician I am astounded by the quality and calibre of the music-making in Terezin.

"Klein only celebrated his 26th birthday before he was murdered, but he would have been one of the greatest movers and shakers of the 20th century had he survived."

    Last updated: 1:05pm, September 1 2011