“Ich möcht so gern nach Haus!”: Anne Sofie von Otter sings songs by ‘Theresienstadt composers.’

terezin-von otter

The songs Anne Sofie von Otter, assisted by baritone Christian Gerhaher, sings on the CD Terezín – Theresienstadt, released in 2008 on Deutsche Gramophon (DG 4776546), belong to a variety of music genres. They have one thing in common: all of them were composed in the Terezín concentration camp and their creators who were deported there were later murdered in Auschwitz.

The initiative came from von Otter herself: for the Holocaust commemoration in Stockholm she collected a wide selection of the ‘Terezín songs’ and compiled a recital of them.  This programme was then recorded for CD, ” because we must never forget. “

terezin ilse weber

Ilse Weber

It is a CD you really need to listen to from start to finish even though many of the songs come from the lighter genre. Most moving are the songs by Ilse Weber.

terezin wiegala

Try to keep a dry eye when listening to ‘Wiegala,’ the lullaby that Weber sang to the children in the gas chambers. Or the terrifying words “I want to go home so badly” from Weber’s ‘Ich wandre durch Theresienstadt.’

Below ‘Wiegala’ by Ilse Weber, sung by Anne Sofie von Otter:

terezin schulhoff

Erwin Schulhoff

The beautiful violin solo sonata by Erwin Schulhoff does not really belong here, Schulhoff has never been to Terezín. He was arrested in Prague on 23 June 1941 and deported to the Würzburg concentration camp, where he died of tuberculosis in 1942. You can hear that Daniel Hope has been devoted to Schulhoff’s music for many years, as he interprets the work in an inimitable way.

Below Daniel Hope plays ‘Andante Cantabile’, the second movement of Schulhoff’s sonata. It is a recording from the CD ‘Forbidden Music’, released by Nimbus:

Ilse Weber, Hans Krása, Viktor Ullmann, Pavel Haas, Karel Svenk, Erwin Schulhoff
Terezín – Theresienstadt
Anne Sofie von Otter (mezzo-soprano), Christian Gerhaher (baritone), Daniel Hope (violin), Bengt Forsberg (piano), Bebe Risengf (accordion, guitar and double bass) and others.

In Dutch: “Ich möcht so gern nach Haus!”: Anne Sofie von Otter zingt liederen van ‘Theresienstadt componisten’

Entartete Musik, Teresienstadt and Channel Classics

PAVEL HAAS door het Kocian Quartet


Translated with

The Yiddish Cabaret: Jerusalem Quartet’s tribute to their grandparents

Jiddish CabaretThe Jerusalem String Quartet never disappoints. Never. Whatever they play. It’s not just about perfection, but also, or perhaps mainly, about their attention to the story behind the notes. For their involvement in the pieces they play. And their search for the truth that may not even exist. But with this album they have gone far above themselves and their own standards. Something that might have to do with the fact that they were allowed to choose the works themselves, none of which are commonplace?

With their choice they have also made a statement. Something we all know but still don’t want to admit out loud because we feel uncomfortable about it? About the influence of Jews and their contribution to our Western culture?

These days, Schulhoff and certainly Korngold are no longer curiosities, although of the latter mostly his operas are performed these days. Yet his chamber music compositions are not to be sneezed at. Listen his second string quartet, for example! At the first notes you get the nostalgic feeling of an unattainable lover and an intense desire. Beautiful and painful at the same time. Not only are the notes divinely beautiful, it is also the performance. Yearning and full of desire.

The five pieces for Erwin Schulhoff’s string quartet are a  link to the title of the album: the Jewish Cabaret. Leonid Desyatnikov composed his ‘Yiddish’ in 2018. These five songs are based on the Yiddish songs from the Polish interbellum, the period between the two world wars, which were sung in the cabarets in Warsaw and Lódz. The soprano Hila Baggio manages to strike the right tone in the songs. Light-footed. Think of the very young Lotte Lenya.

The album is dedicated to the grandparents of the members of the quartet. I allow myself to include my own grandparents that I have never known.

The Yiddish Cabaret
Erich Wolfgang Korngold: String quartet no. 2 on. 26
Erwin Schulhoff: 5 Pieces for string quartet
Leonid Desyatnikov: Yiddish – 5 Lieder for Stem and Stem Quarter (2018)
Hila Baggio (soprano), Jerusalem Quartet
Harmonia Mundi HMM 902631

Translated with

The Yiddish Cabaret: Jerusalem Quartet’s hommage aan hun grootouders

Jiddish Cabaret

Het Jerusalem Strijkkwartet stelt nooit teleur. Nooit. Wat ze ook spelen. Het gaat niet alleen om de perfectie maar ook, of misschien voornamelijk om hun aandacht voor het verhaal achter de noten. Voor hun betrokkenheid bij de stukken die ze spelen. En hun zoektocht naar de waarheid die wellicht niet eens bestaat. Maar met deze album zijn ze ver boven zichzelf en hun eigen norm gestegen. Wat wellicht te maken kan hebben dat ze de stukken zelf mochten kiezen, stukken die geen van allen alledaags zijn?

Met hun keuze hebben ze ook een statement gemaakt. Iets wat we eigenlijk allemaal weten maar nog steeds niet hardop willen toegeven want daar voelen we ons ongemakkelijk over? Over de invloed van Joden en hun aandeel in onze Westerse cultuur?

Nu zijn Schulhoff en zeker Korngold niet zo’n rariteit meer, al worden van de laatste tegenwoordig voornamelijk zijn opera’s uitgevoerd. En dat, terwijl zijn kamermuziekcomposities echt niet te versmaden zijn. Neem alleen zijn tweede strijkkwartet! Bij de eerste noten al krijg je het nostalgische gevoel van een onbereikbare geliefde en een intens verlangen. Mooi en pijnlijk tegelijk. Het zijn niet alleen de goddelijk mooie noten, het is ook de uitvoering. Smachtend en vol verlangen.

De vijf stukken voor het strijkkwartet van Erwin Schulhoff zijn een soort brug richting de titel van het album: het Joodse Cabaret. Leonid Desyatnikov componeerde zijn ‘Jiddisch’ in 2018. Die vijf liederen zijn gebaseerd op de Jiddische liedjes uit het Poolse interbellum, de periode tussen de twee wereldoorlogen, die gezongen werden in de cabarets in Warschau en Lódz. De sopraan Hila Baggio weet in de liedjes de juiste toon te treffen. Lichtvoetig. Denk aan de zeer jonge Lotte Lenya.

Het album is opgedragen aan de grootouders van de leden van het kwartet. Ik permiteer mij om ook mijn eigen grootouders die ik nooit heb gekend erbij te betrekken.

The Yiddish Cabaret
Erich Wolfgang Korngold: Strijkkwartet nr. 2 op. 26
Erwin Schulhoff: 5 Stukken voor strijkkwartet
Leonid Desyatnikov: Jiddisch – 5 Lieder für Stimme und Streichquartett (2018)
Hila Baggio (sopraan), Jerusalem Quartet
Harmonia Mundi HMM 902631

Lady Rattle in 2004, when she was called Magdalena Kožená…


It all starts rather unfortunately. First of all, I forget about the time difference with England and call too early. One hour later I am told that she is not at home, and that I should try her on her mobile. The time is not right, she says, she’s in a museum, and besides, she didn’t know anything about the interview. So we make a new appointment right away.

Three times is a charm. This time she is at home and extremely friendly. First of all she wants to apologize, something must have gone wrong. It doesn’t matter, I say. These things happen. Her speaking voice resembles her singing voice: silvery, warm and quiet. Dark too, which sounds very attractive with that touch of a Czech accent.

First of all I would like to talk about her latest CD.

– Who chose the program?

“I did. DG wanted to make a CD with more instruments than just a piano. They proposed Il Tramonto by Respighi, the rest I have chosen. Yes, it sounds a bit melancholic, but I think it also has to do with the period, most of those compositions were written between the two world wars. The saddest music is that of Schulhoff, but he was also a tragic figure. A Jew, who died in a concentration camp. For me, his songs also have something of the Slavic melancholy.”

– On that CD you sing songs in five different languages, do you also speak them?

“More or less, yes. I learned Russian at school, I speak English and French fluently. My Italian is also good and I learned German when I lived in Vienna for a few years”.

– On your recordings, and there are quite a few of them, you sing music from Bach to Martinů, and from Gluck to Verdi. Also on stage?

Laughing: “Well, no. Certainly not Verdi. But it’s completely different when you put together a recital with opera arias. It is extremely difficult to bring so many different characters to life within 5 minutes, you need an entire opera to do that. That’s why, or so I think, you have to make it as varied as possible, otherwise it will be boring. The idea of Verdi came from Marc Minkowski. At first we even argued about it, but in the end he managed to convince me. He explained that this aria (by Eboli from Don Carlos) sounds like a Spanish folk song, and I think he was right.”

“Minkowski was the first great conductor I met, about seven years ago. He means a lot to me, he’s my music buddy. Nowadays we don’t see each other very often anymore, but in the beginning, we did 4 to 5 projects a year together. I learned a lot from him. When you are a beginner you try to sing as beautifully as possible. He taught me that music is so much more than just beauty.”

For a long time we talk about her Zerlina in Salzburg, two years ago, in 2002. I was there and say that I loved her but hated that production. And again she has to laugh: “I loved that production! When I was offered that role, I only accepted it because it was Salzburg. And Harnoncourt. Zerlina was always synonymous with a stupid blonde for me, but here she got a little more character.”

– Actually, I think your voice is very suitable for the French repertoire, especially Massenet. Do you ever intend to sing it on stage?

“I would love to, especially Cendrillon, but it is so rarely performed, even in France. Most people still like to see me in operas by Mozart and Händel.”

She lives in Paris, but is very rarely at home, the last year only 40 days. She usually meets her husband, a French baritone, somewhere on the road.

Does she think about children?

“I like the idea, but then I have to give up a lot of my life, especially when the children have to go to school”.

For the time being, she is full of plans.


Kozena Schulhoff

This is an extremely interesting CD with an unusual program. Uncommon, because apart from Ravel’s Chansons Madécasses and, perhaps also Respighi’s Il Tramonto, the rest is unknown to most listeners. All songs were composed in the first half of the last century in five different European countries, and radiate a strong melancholy and nostalgia.

The accompagnement is also exceptional, the songs are not only accompanied by the piano, but also by violin, string quartet, flute, cello and piano. Each and every one of them special compositions, sung by Kožena with great understanding of the text. I myself have a bit of trouble with her Russian, for me it is a bit over-articulated, but this is actually nit-picking.

In Il Tramonto I prefer to hear a darker and slightly more dramatic voice, but as she performs it is also possible. In her interpretation the piece gets something girly, with a different colour of sadness.

I consider the three songs by Schulhoff to be the undisputed highlight, they are three small masterpieces and it is to be hoped that Kožena will keep them in her repertoire.

Ravel, Shostakovich, Respighi, Schulhoff, Britten
Magdalena Kožená (mezzo-soprano),
Malcolm Martineau (piano), Paul Edmund-Davies (flute), Christoph Henschel (violin), Jiří Bárta (cello), Henschel Quartet (DG 4715812)

Kozena Martinu

This made me silent. The melancholy of Dvořák, the typical rhythm of Janáček’s language, the idiosyncrasy of Martinů, all of which makes it impossible to disengage from all this.

What I find most interesting is the cycle Songs for a friend of my country from Martinů, which is having its album premiere here. Martinů composed it in 1940 in Aix-en-Provence, during his flight from the Nazis that would bring him to America, and it is dedicated to Edmond Charles-Roux. The cycle was only discovered in 1996. It is an immense asset to the song repertoire, but: who else sings it? Very moving.

Dvořák, Janáček, Martinů
Love songs
Magdalena Kožená mezzo-soprano, Graham Johnson piano (DG 4634722)

Translated with

Erwin Schulhoff: genres en grenzen overschrijdende muziek

Schulhoff box

“Muziek moet voornamelijk fysiek plezier, zelfs een extase bij de luisteraar teweegbrengen. Zij is geen filosofie, haar oorsprong ligt in de extatische situaties en haar uiting in het ritme” schreef Erwin Schulhoff in 1919.

Vanaf zijn prille jeugd werd Schulhoff gefascineerd door alles wat nieuw was. Zijn muziek was  genres en grenzen – soms zelfs die van een ‘goed fatsoen’ – overschrijdend. Hij was een man van uitersten, hartelijk omarmde hij dada en jazz, had ook een bijzondere voorkeur voor het groteske. Geen wonder, dat de synthese van jazz en klassieke muziek, van alles eigenlijk voor hem niet alleen een uitdaging, maar zelfs zijn artistieke credo werd.

Schulhoff Lockenhaus

Mijn eerste kennismaking met de componist en zijn muziek was dertig jaar geleden, in het door Gidon Kremer geleide kamermuziekfestival in Lockenhaus. Het was voornamelijk zijn strijksextet, met zijn sterke Janaček-invloeden, dat mij naar adem deed happen. Sinds die dag was ik verslaafd.

Het heeft lang geduurd, maar inmiddels heeft Schulhoff zijn weg naar de concertpodia en opnamestudio’s gevonden. Voornamelijk dat laatste, want op concerten wordt hij nog steeds te weinig geprogrammeerd. Waar het aan ligt? Niet aan zijn muziek. Ik vind het buitengewoon pervers dat de vermoorde componisten nog steeds vaak doodgezwegen worden. Voor de tweede keer vermoord.

Schulhoff etersen

Mijn allereerste ‘platen-encounter’ met de componist betrof de opname van de complete strijkkwartetten door het Petersen Quartet, in 1992. Tot mijn vreugde zitten die strijkkwartetten ook in de box met zes cd’s die het label Capriccio onlangs op de markt gebracht. Het betreft opnamen van veel van zijn werken (beste Capriccio: er bestaat meer!) door Deutschlandfunk Kultur tussen 1992 en 2007 gemaakt. De meeste van die opnamen zijn al eerder op Capriccio (maar ook andere, vaak niet meer bestaande labels) verschenen.

De opname uit 2007 van het Dubbelconcert voor fluit en piano, met als solist de Nederlandse fluitist Jacques Zoon is voor mij nieuw. En mooi dat het is! Nieuw voor mij is ook de opname van de tweede en de vijfde symfonie, waarin de Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks onder leiding staat van de grootste pleitbezorger voor de ‘entartete componisten’, James Conlon.

Symfonieën nr. 2 & 5, Pianoconcert op. 34, Concerto Doppio, Concert voor strijkkwartet en blazers, Strijkkwartetten nr. 1 & 2, Strijksextet, Sonate voor viool solo, Duo voor viool en cello, Pianosonates nr. 1 & 3, Pianowerken
Jacques Zoon (fluit); Frank-Immo Zichner, Margarete Babinsky (piano); Petersen Quartett; Leipzicher Streichquartett; Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks olv James Conlon; Deutscher Symphonie-Orchester Berlin olv Roland Kluttig
Capriccio C7297

Entartete Musik, Teresienstadt and Channel Classics

Spectrum Concerts Berlin speelt ERWIN SCHULHOFF

ERWIN SCHULHOFF strijkkwartetten door ALMA QUARTET

Entartete Musik, Teresienstadt and Channel Classics

entartAt the end of the 1980s the music-loving world (and here I mean not only listeners, but also publicists, reviewers and music experts) found out that there was more between heaven and earth, or, since we are talking about music: between Strauss and Stockhausen. People began to realise that an entire generation of composers had been deleted from the history books and concert halls. Just like that. And it was not _only_ the fault of the Nazis.


In 1988, the exhibition ‘Entartete Musik’ was put on in Düsseldorf, exactly 50 years after the original event held by the Nazis. The exhibition also traveled to other cities, including Amsterdam, and became the occasion of much discussion.

entartete affiche


The term ‘entartet’ (degenerate) was not invented by the Nazis. Already in the nineteenth century it was used in criminology, meaning something like ‘biologically degenerated’. The term was eagerly borrowed by the rulers of the Third Reich to prohibit the expressions of art that they considered ‘non-Aryan’. Modernism, expressionism, jazz … And everything that had to do with Jews, because they were already seen as a degenerate race.

entertet zwe vielschreiber


What had begun as a ban soon developed into exclusion and resulted in murder. Those who had managed to flee to America or England have survived the war. Those who stayed in Europe were doomed.

Many, mainly Czech composers were deported via Terezín to the extermination camps, many ended up there directly. After the war they were totally forgotten, and thus murdered for the second time. Those who survived were found hopelessly old-fashioned and no longer played.

It was only at the end of the 1980s that it became clear that Korngold was more than a composer of Hollywod scores; that without Schreker and Zemlinski there would probably have been no Strauss either and that Boulez and Stockhausen were not the first to experiment with serialism. The turnaround came too late for most of the survivors …

 In Germany the foundation Musica Reanimata was established, but the Netherlands did not stay behind either. Under the name Musica Ritrovata a few enthusiasts have tried to bring the music back to the concert halls.

That this succeeded was partly thanks to Channel Classics. The Dutch CD label, founded by Jared Sachs was the very first to record the music of forgotten composers.

Already in 1991 and 1992 they released four CD’s with music of the ‘Theresienstadt – Composer’ of whom one had almost never heard before: Gideon Klein, Hans Krása, Pavel Haas, Viktor Ullman… Even though the last three were really household names before the war. Gideon Klein had not had the chance – he was murdered in the gas chambers at the age of 24.


entartete brundibar

The first four Channel Classics CDs were truly pioneering. Hans Krása’s child opera Brundibar was recorded in Prague. Brundibar was actually composed before the war, but its premiere took place in Terezín, in 1943.

The CD (CCS 5198) was combined with songs by Domažlicky. Not a high-flyer, but certainly interesting.



On the other hand, the recording of Krása’s chamber music by the La Roche Quartet (CCS 3792) is great, probably the best performance of it.



Of all Janácek’s students, Pavel Haas succeeded best in combining the influences of his teacher with his own musical language. At the request of the bass Karel Berman, he wrote Four Songs on Chinese Poetry in 1944. Berman, who survived the war, recorded them together with his own songs (CCS 3191).

Karel Berman sings  ‘Far Away Is The Moon Of Home’:


entartete klein

But the best thing, in my opinion, is the recording with four works by 24-year-old Gideon Klein and Victor Ulmann’s third string quartet,. Listen to Klein’s Trio and shiver (CCS 1691)


entartete griebel schulhoff

Channel Classics continues, now in collaboration with the acclaimed Werner Herbers and his Ebony Band. Thanks to Herbers many composers have become more than just a Wikipedia entry. Think of Schulhoff: you do know his CD with Dada-inspired works, with Otto Griebel’s drawings, don’t you?

The Ebony Band plays H.M.S.Royal Oak, Schulhoff’s jazz oratorio:




entartet dancing

Think of Stefan Wolpe, of whom Herbers performed the opera Zeus und Elida during the Holland Festival in 1997 and whose music he still records: the latest CD is called Dancing.

Ebony Band plays ‘Tanz (Charleston)’ by Wolpe:

Besides compositions by Wolpe, Milhaud and Martinů it inlcudes works by Emil František Burian and Mátyás Seiber.


And think of the Polish composer Józef Koffler, the first Polish composer who used the dodecaphony. Koffler, together with his family, was murdered by the Nazis, probably in the city of Krosno. His String Trio and the beautiful cantata Die Liebe (sung by Barbara Hannigan) are combined with the Quintet of the other unknown Pole, Konstanty Regamey (CCS 31010).

Koeffler’s ‘Die Liebe’ (Miłość):

Translated with

In Dutch:
Entartete Musik, Teresienstadt en Channel Classics

Auf Deutsch:
Entartete Musik, Theresienstadt und Channel Classics. Deutsche Übersetzung

For more ‘Theresienstadt-composers’
“Ich möcht so gern nach Haus!”: Anne Sofie von Otter zingt liederen van ‘Theresienstadt componisten’


Das Lied von Terezín & Requiem Ebraico

Rudolf Karel, een ‘Theresienstadt componist’ die vrijwel niemand kent

PAVEL HAAS door het Kocian Quartet


“Ich möcht so gern nach Haus!”: Anne Sofie von Otter zingt liederen van ‘Theresienstadt componisten’

terezin-von otter

De liederen die Anne Sofie von Otter, bijgestaan door de bariton Christian Gerhaher zingt op de in 2008 op Deutsche Gramophon (DG 4776546) uitgekomen cd TerezínTheresienstadt behoren tot verschillende muziekgenres. Één ding hebben ze echter gemeen: alle werden ze gecomponeerd in het concentratiekamp Terezín en hun daar naartoe gedeporteerde scheppers werden later in Auschwitz vermoord.

Het initiatief kwam van von Otter zelf: voor de Holocaustherdenking in Stockholm heeft ze een ruime selectie van de ‘Terezín-liederen’ verzameld en daar een recital van samengesteld.  Dit programma werd vervolgens op cd vastgelegd, “opdat we het nooit vergeten”.

terezin ilse weber

Ilse Weber

Het is geen cd om tussendoor te draaien, al zijn veel van de liederen afkomstig van het lichtere genre. Het meest ontroerend vind ik de liederen van Ilse Weber.

terezin wiegala

Probeer het maar droog te houden bij ‘Wiegala’, het slaapliedje dat Weber de kinderen toezong tot in de gaskamers. Of bij de huiveringwekkende woorden “ ik wil zo graag naar huis”, afkomstig uit Webers ‘Ich wandre durch Theresienstadt”.

Hieronder ‘Wiegala’ van Ilse Weber, gezongen door Anne Sofie von Otter:

terezin schulhoff

Erwin Schulhoff

De prachtige vioolsolosonate van Erwin Schulhoff hoort hier eigenlijk niet thuis, Schulhoff is nooit in Terezín geweest. Hij werd op 23 juni 1941 in Praag opgepakt en naar het concentratiekamp Würzburg gedeporteerd, waar hij in 1942 overleed aan tuberculose. Dat Daniel Hope al jarenlang aan muziek van Schulhoff  is verknocht dat hoor je, hij vertolkt het werk op een onnavolgbare manier.

Hieronder speelt Daniel Hope ‘Andante Cantabile’, tweede deel van de sonate van Schulhoff. Het is een opname van de cd ‘Forbidden Music’, uitgebracht door Nimbus:

Ilse Weber, Hans Krása, Viktor Ullmann, Pavel Haas, Karel Svenk, Erwin Schulhoff
Terezín – Theresienstadt
Anne Sofie von Otter (mezzosopraan), Christian Gerhaher (bariton), Daniel Hope (viool), Bengt Forsberg (piano), Bebe Risengf (accordeon, gitaar en contrabas) e.a.

Das Lied von Terezín & Requiem Ebraico

Rudolf Karel, een ‘Theresienstadt componist’ die vrijwel niemand kent

PAVEL HAAS door het Kocian Quartet

Entartete Musik, Teresienstadt en Channel Classics

ERWIN SCHULHOFF strijkkwartetten door ALMA QUARTET