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“Musica Concentrationaria”

Watch the documentary trailer.

searching for the lost music

„Supplementing the task assigned to you by the decree of January 24, 1939, to solve the Jewish problem by means of emigration and evacuation in the best possible way according to present conditions, I hereby charge you to carry out preparations as regards organizational, financial, and material matters for a total solution of the Jewish question in all the territories of Europe under German occupation.” This is what on July 31st, 1941 Nazi official Hermann Göring wrote to SS Gruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich, causing the biggest horrors history has ever seen: the death of 6 million people in Nazi concentration camps. Between the deportees, there were prominent, less known and unknown musicians and composers of which we learned of, thanks to the accounts given by some of the survivors. And this is how we learned of the existence of musical pieces that were written in those years of horror, either spontaneously, or on the orders of the camp’s commanders.

The purpose of the project “Musica concentrationaria” is to search, study, deepen, carry out, catalogue and enhance this vast repertoire by promoting the knowledge of what happened in the concentration camps and, in particular, the role the music had on the life of the deported: a temporary escape from the horrors and from the nightmare of the reality that surrounded them.

Years of research, 2,500 works already found, other 1,500 scores to check, surveys in memorials, museums, archives, libraries, bookshops in Italy, Israel, Germany, Austria, Poland, and the Czech Republic. Direct cooperation with the main musicians of reference of this musical production (Joza Karas and Bret Werb in the USA, David Bloch in Israel, Robert Kolben and Gabriele Knapp in Germany, Blanka Cervinkova, who recently left us, in the Czech Republic).

Reports from around the world of further works (for piano, chamber music, quintet, lieder, etc.) that continue to arrive weekly with a continuous updating of the research.

The large amount of this musical material helps us to understand how the Shoah has badly fallen over human history like a meteor went crazy and has destroyed not only physical life of six million people, but also the brilliant career of many men of culture and art. What would they have yet been able to create, how many other musical masterpieces could these men produce if the Shoah had not befallen them?

Therefore, the aim of Musica concentrationaria is to bring back to light the musical history of prominent and least-known musicians, contributing not only to fill a gap in the history of music, but also to deliver mankind a different awareness of the importance of the memory of unspeakable events, such as the Shoah.

A unique event. An organisational effort like it had never been approached. A result of immeasurable historical value.

The main purpose of the project is the realization of the documentary “Musica Concentrationaria”, that includes documents, original scores and interviews to deported musicians or their relatives. It contributes not only to fill a big gap in Music History, but also to make people aware of the importance of unspeakable events like the Shoah. The documentary, produced by Associazione Musikstrasse, on a subject by Francesco Lotoro and with Ermanno Felli’s direction , was presented in Rome in world premiere on October, the 29th , 2007, during the International Conference “Musica Concentrationaria”. The documentary, the conference and the web sites, together costitute the "Musica concentrationaria" project, carried out and promoted by the Associazione Musikstrasse with the support of the European Union (“Culture 2000” programme).