Orchestral Music

A Survivor from Warsaw

In ‘Survivor, Schoenberg presents the audience with a fictional representation of the Warsaw ghetto Uprising and uses musical and textual devices to depict the labours of traumatic memory.

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Beethoven's 5th Symphony

The opening motif of Beethoven's 5th Symphony became a powerful symbol for the Allied forces. The rhythmic pattern corresponded in Morse code to the letter 'V' for Victory, which was an acknowledged symbol of the war effort.

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The British Promenade Series and the Blitz

London’s summer ‘Promenade’ concerts were a popular pastime for the British people. It was conductor Sir Henry Wood who became the name most associated with the Proms.                                

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Wartime Opera in Britain

At the outbreak of war, the Royal Opera House was taken over as a dance hall. Sadler’s Wells was able to continue its activities with seven productions in the first year after war had been declared

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Classical Singers and the Holocaust

Several distinguished singers of the early 20th century died in cattle trucks or gas chambers. These included the coloratura soprano Grete Forst, the Wagnerian mezzos Ottilie Metzger-Lettermann and Magda Spiegel, the baritone Richard Breitenfeld, the operetta star Louis Treumann, and the great cantor Gershon Sirota.

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Restoration and Restitution

Wilhelm Rettich

Wilhelm Rettich was a German composer, conductor and teacher. He fled to the Netherlands in 1933 and survived the Nazi occupation by hiding in a cellar.



Brundibár is a children's opera written in 1938 and composed by Hans Krása with lyrics by Adolf Hoffmeister. Its premiere in Terezín was on 23 September 1943.


Camp System

An overview of the types of internment camps within the camp system of the Third Reich related to major phases of the Nazi regime.

Resistance & Exile

Anthems for France

Political regimes use hymns as symbols of their values and aspirations. While France was divided by the war, it adopted three anthems between north and south.

Resistance & Exile

Berthold Goldschmidt

Emigre composer Berthold Goldschmidt (1903-1996) died in London at the age of 93. He had lived at the same ground floor flat since fleeing Germany.

Politics & Propaganda

Classical Music Radio in Wartime Britain

For better or worse, BBC radio was the dominant voice of Britain throughout WWII for which classical music was an important and revealing feature.

Politics & Propaganda

Jews and Music in Fascist Italy

The modern nation of Italy had existed for barely more than sixty years when, in October 1922, Benito Mussolini became the country’s prime minister.


Music amongst Displaced Persons

The Displaced Persons’ camps of occupied post-war Europe were home to a diverse range of music used as a means to chronicle what they had experienced.


Music in the Bergen-Belsen DP-camp

British forces established a DP camp in Belsen, which existed until 1950. Concerts, theatre, dance, folk music and other genres of entertainment flourished.


On my birthday
The Germans walked-walked into Holland
Germans invaded Hungary
I was in 2nd grade
I had a teacher
A very tall man, his head was completely plastered smooth
He said, "Black Crows-
Black Crows invaded our country many years ago"
And he pointed right at me
No more school
You must go away
And she said, "Quick, go!"
And he said, "Don't breathe"
Into the cattle wagons
And for four days and four nights
And then we went through…

The idea for the piece comes from my childhood. [Due to my parent’s divorce], I travelled back and forth by train frequently between New York and Los Angeles from 1939 to 1942. […] While these trips were exciting and romantic at the time, I now look back and think that, if I had been in Europe during this period, as a Jew I would have had to ride on very different trains. With this in mind, I wanted to make a piece that would accurately reflect the whole situation.