Music Students Restore Lost Jewish Compositions

A new venture will see students from the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance playing lost musical compositions of Jews.

Elad Benari,

Jews in the Holocaust
Jews in the Holocaust
Israel news file photo

A new and unique joint venture of Kol Yisrael radio and the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance will see the Academy’s students playing the works of Jewish composers who perished in the Holocaust or the works of Jewish composers that were kept hidden for reasons of anti-Semitism and, as such, are not known to the public.

The restored works will be heard for the first time in a special broadcast on Kol Yisrael radio’s Kol Hamusica (Voice of Music) station.

In a conversation with Arutz Sheva, Professor Michael Wolpe, a teacher at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance and the person who is behind the initiative, said that recreating the works was a very complex process which sometimes required real detective work, since in many cases the original works were either missing or destroyed. In some cases, he said, different parts of a certain work were in the possession of different people.

Among those composers whose works will be featured are Henri Herz and Karl Goldmark, and Wolpe said that in order to restore Herz’s concerto he had to send letters to various orchestras and libraries around the world to ask if they had any of his works. While Wolpe had the portion of the concerto written for the piano, the rest of the piece was missing. It turned out that the original work was acquired by a collector who resides in Philadelphia, while the score was taken by Herz’s family to a remote island in South Australia.

In other works, Wolpe said, the task was to complete the last part of the work that the composer did not complete and only wrote it in words without orchestration. There were also works that were written by Jews while in the ghetto or in solitary confinement and required deciphering, as they were written on a few small sheets of paper in condensed handwriting.

Professor Wolpe emphasized the need to resurrect the work of these composers, some of whom refused to forcibly convert into Christianity and paid for this refusal by having their brilliant works destroyed.

The joint venture will begin with a live concert that will air on Tuesday on Kol Hamusica beginning at 8:00 p.m. (Israel time). Earlier in the day at 3:00 p.m. Israel time, Kol Yisrael radio’s Reshet Bet will air a special program in which Professor Wolpe will present the stories behind the restored works.

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