"Seven Candles" to remember Czech composers who died in the Holocaust

Frantisek Brikcius

The impact of the Holocaust on Czech classical music was devastating. Many Czech composers were of Jewish origin, and during the German occupation were deported to the Terezin ghetto north of Prague. Although some managed to continue performing under the difficult conditions of the ghetto, nearly all were later killed in Auschwitz and other death camps. On Monday their music and their tragic fate will be remembered at a concert in Prague. The concert, entitled "Seven Candles", is one of many events this year to mark the 100th anniversary of the founding of Prague's Jewish museum. It was organized by the cellist Frantisek Brikcius, who will also be performing alongside the Talich Chamber Orchestra. He tells us about the concert.

"I put together two pieces written by Terezin composers and one modern piece which has a connection with the Jewish art or music. The first composer is Gideon Klein, who didn't survive the Holocaust and the piece is called 'Partita for string orchestra'.

"The second piece, 'Study for string orchestra', is written by Pavel Haas and it has one very sad association because it had its premiere in 1944 - in the ghetto of Terezin. That piece had two performances, one was for a movie for the Red Cross, made when the Red Cross visited the ghetto and the Nazis were trying to show that people were not being gassed. This was of course a façade. All the people in the film were gassed. They were sent to Auschwitz and only few survived."

"The third piece is called 'Seven Candles' and is written for cello solo and string orchestra. It is going to be a world premiere. It is seven movements - 'Seven Candles' - for cello and orchestra. The composer Irena Kosikova is a contemporary Czech composer and organist.

"One of my main ideas is to make sure that the music of these composers lives and is played, so that they will not just stay somewhere unknown and not being played. It is very important to do this. I feel it like a mission."

The concert takes place in the beautiful Gothic St Salvator Chapel in the Agnes Convent in Prague 1 on Monday 25th September, starting at 7.30 pm.