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Wednesday, 4 March 2015

The Music Of Defiance

A remarkable story about a musical performance inspired by a remarkable story.
The Nazis had [taken] a medieval Czech fortress town and convert[ed] it into a massive, horrifically overcrowded ghetto and transit camp. From there the next stop was Auschwitz.
The response of the Jewish prisoners was nearly unique. They created a rich cultural life for themselves, ... including “2,400 lectures, 16 performances of the Verdi Requiem, 38 performances of [Smetana’s opera] ‘The Bartered Bride,’ 50 performances of [Czech children’s opera] ‘Brundibár,’ and performances of ‘Tosca’ and ‘The Magic Flute,’” as well as cabaret and jazz events.
One figure at the heart of their cultural efforts was Rafael Schächter, a Romanian-born Czech conductor, composer and choral director, whose promising career in opera was cut short when the Nazis invaded Czechoslovakia and banned Jews from public life. Sidlin’s ....,  his crowning achievement in Terezin: 16 performances of Giuseppe Verdi’s Requiem Mass.
The Jewish conductor at the heart of the story rightly describes Verdi's Requiem as "steeped in the Catholic liturgy," it isn't itself even vaguely liturgical - it is a great, great opera.

I don't actually know the details of Verdi's faith, his brand of Roman Catholicism - he was, IIRC, anti-clerical, anti-Papal states, no?

But the Manzoni Requiem radiates the splendour of truth.

I don't know how anyone can listen to Verdi's setting of ingemisco and not be certain, yes, of his own sinfulness but even more sure of the salvific power of God's mercy, in Christ.

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