Leeds college to host conference on Holocaust music

Memorial at Terezin, former Jewish ghetto concentration camp.
Memorial at Terezin, former Jewish ghetto concentration camp.
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An international conference about music and musicians interned in a Czech concentration camp during the Holocaust will be held in Leeds next year.

The International Terezin Music Conference will be held at Leeds College of Music on the weekend of February 26 and 27, marking the launch of the college’s Terezin (Theresienstadt) Music Hub.

The college is aiming to become a world centre for the study and promotion of music during the Holocaust, as well as creativity in adversity in general.

The ambassador to the Czech Republic, Michael Zantovksy, will open the conference and will act as the Honorary Patron for the Terezin Music Hub. The main organiser of the hub and the conference is the college’s principal lecturer in classical music, Dr David Fligg.

He said: “The musicians that we’re celebrating in our conference, and through the hub, might well be perceived as victims of Hitler’s evil regime. But victimhood gives the Nazis some type of victory.

“So my vision is for our activities to perpetuate them not as victims, but as great artists in their own right. We’re ensuring that they live on, and they’ll continue to inspire us in so many ways.”

The conference will commemorate the centenary of the birth of Eliska Kleinova, who was born on February 27, 1912.

Kleinova was the sister of the composer and pianist Gideon Klein and became a greatly respected Prague-based music pedagogue, after being imprisoned in Terezin and surviving Auschwitz.

A concert on the centenary day will include Klein’s Piano Sonata, written in Terezin and dedicated to his sister.

After enduring his spell in Terezin, Klein was transported to Auschwitz and murdered at the Fürstengrube slave labour camp at the age of 26.

The conference will include appearances from keynote speakers Michael Beckerman, of New York University, and conductor Murry Sidlin, who will conduct a performance of Beethoven’s Choral Symphony in Leeds on February 29.

Terezin survivor Zdenka Fantlova will also attend the conference to talk about the cultural life of Terezin and her own personal memories of Gideon and Eliska.