Thursday 27 January 2022

For Holocaust Memorial Day

As Sue notes in a post above, today is Holocaust Memorial Day. 

Before work today I was re-reading something I wrote for my old classical music blog Serenade to Music back in 2012: Scherzo triste - The Music of Pavel Haas. Pavel Haas was a Czech/Jewish composer, a pupil of the great Leos Janacek, and - in my view - an unsung master. His dates, alas, were 1899-1944. He was murdered in Auschwitz-Birkenau.  

I'm going to post one of his pieces for you: his String Quartet No. 2, 'From the Monkey Mountains', Op.7 of 1925.
If you were impressed by that then wait until you try Haas's String Quartet No. 2, 'From the Monkey Mountains', Op.7 of 1925, where the undoubted traces of Janáček's two great string quartets (The Kreutzer Sonata and Intimate Letters) don't in any way detract from a remarkable achievement. There are four movements, of which the first, Landscape, is closest throughout to the teacher's idiom. The second, Coach, Coachman And Horse, however, has a remarkably original main section that will surely get you pricking up your ears! The slow movement, The Moon And I..., is certainly mysterious - and very beautiful. As for the final movement, Wild Night, well that holds a surprise which I won't divulge. It's a musical first too, historically-speaking. I'll just say that if you were in any doubt about the Chinese inspiration behind the piece, you won't be after hearing this part of it! Yes, Haas certainly had a sense of humour. (There's more evidence for that in the rather inebriated-sounding second movement of the Wind Quintet, Op.10 of 1929). This superb work should be in the repertory of most string quartets, though I suspect I can guess why it probably won't be (as I'm sure you can too).

My teasers there still stand. You'll have to listen to it to find out!

But whereas many, like the BBC, are happy to confront antisemitism in Nazi Germany - and the rest of the past - the focus must also be on antisemitism now. This happened last night, in London, on the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day:

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