Excerpt from the CD Jüdische Chronik, courtesy of Edel Classics (www.edel.com).

Jüdische Chronik was inspired by a series of assaults in 1959 that culminated in the defacement of the newly reopened Synagogue in Cologne, West Germany.  These derelict activities prompted East German composer Paul Dessau to organise the composition of Jüdische Chronik, a five-part cantata whose text cited instances of Jewish persecution from both the Holocaust and post-war periods.  In order to emphasise the universality of the Chronik’s political message, Dessau invited artists from both East and West Germany to collaborate on the cantata: Boris Blacher, Karl Amadeus Hartmann and Hans Werner Henze from the west; Rudolf Wagner-Régeny and Jens Gerlach from the east.  According to Henze, the project was attractive to all the composers because it provided the opportunity to confront directly the threats of fascism: “[We] remembered how too often in the past artists had kept their own counsel, and how disastrous their silence had often been in the Third Reich. […] We all believed that any kind of warning would be preferable to the kind of non-political evasiveness that indicates only indifference and insensitivity”.