Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Ibbetson Street Press Book Release: The Music Man of Terezin: The story of Rafael Schaechter

Release date: April 19, 2012 (Yom HaShoah)

Available for Yom HaShoah events and book readings (no charge to synagogues):

The Music Man of Terezin:

the story of Rafael Schaechter

As remembered by Edgar Krasa

By Susie Davidson
Illustrated by Fay Grajower

Rafael Schaechter was a composer, conductor and pianist who staged musical and theatrical productions with the inmates at Terezin, a unique concentration camp where the Nazis imprisoned many of Eastern Europe’s most talented artists and musicians. Under starvation conditions, they continued to create works, and the camp became a fa├žade, a cultural showcase promoted by the Nazis to convey a false reality of how well they treated the Jews.

This new book by Susie Davidson is based on the recollections of Holocaust survivor Edgar Krasa of Newton, Mass., who was a member of Schaechter's choruses. Schaechter, whom Krasa refers to as “a psychologist without a degree,” was able to uplift the spirits of the doomed Terezin prisoners by teaching and involving them in various musical productions. He is best known for staging 15 performances of Verdi's Requiem at Terezin, with shrinking casts each time due to deportations. It was secretly a defiant act, produced under great risk. By singing the Requiem’s verses about the final judgment day to the Nazis, the prisoners were able to denounce their captors. When Schaechter was asked to stage a performance for the Nazis, their invited Nazi guests, and a contingent from the Red Cross, the head of the Council of Elders advised against it, because if the Nazis learned the secret about the lyrics, he could be hung, and the prisoners could all be deported. He persisted, however, and after telling the singers about this risk, they unanimously agreed to continue with the production. It was their final, successful act of defiance. Shortly thereafter, Rafael Schaechter was deported to Auschwitz, where he perished.

For more information or to arrange book readings and events,
please search for The Music Man of Terezin page on Facebook

ISBN 9780984661404
2012, Ibbetson Street Press, Somerville, Mass.

Edgar Krasa is a survivor of Terezin and other concentration camps. He is on the board of the Terezin Music Foundation, which has established a Krasa-Schaechter Commission Fund for young composers. He often speaks at schools and community venues. “When I speak at inner city schools, I emphasize racial hatred and highlight tolerance. To music-oriented audiences,  I speak about music as an instrument of resistance and defiance. For religious groups, I highlight the impact of the Holocaust on my faith at various stages of my life.”

Susie Davidson is a poet, journalist, author, and filmmaker who writes regularly for the Jewish Advocate, the Jewish Journal, the Jewish Daily Forward, JointMedia News Service and other media, and has contributed to the Jerusalem Post, the Boston Sunday Globe, and the Boston Herald. She is the Coordinator of the Boston chapter of The Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life and the Brookline (Mass.) Library Authors’ Collaborative.

Other books by Susie Davidson:
“I Refused to Die: Stories of Boston-Area Holocaust Survivors and Soldiers who Liberated the Concentration Camps of World War II” (2005)
“Jewish Life in Postwar Germany” (2006)
“Selected Poetry of Susie D”
“In Gratitude and Hope” (collection of remarks made by former German Consul to New England Wolfgang K. Vorwerk at area Holocaust community events, ed.) (2008)
 (All Ibbetson Street Press, Somerville).

Fay Grajower, a daughter of Holocaust survivors, studied at The School of Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and holds an M.A. in Studio Art from New York University. Her works have been featured in galleries and museums in cities throughout the U.S. and abroad including in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Wash, DC, New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland and Florida, and in Germany, Poland and Israel. Her work has been exhibited at the Auschwitz Jewish Museum in Oswiecim, and in Poland at the Biblioteka Slaska in Katowice and the Czestochowa Museum. She was an artist-in-residence in Boca Raton, Florida; in Mitzpe Ramon, Israel; and in Erfurt, Germany. Her commissioned works include a painted sculpted glass dedicatory wall at the JCC of Wilmington, Delaware, a Holocaust Memorial Sculpture Installation at the B'nai Torah Congregation in Boca Raton, a Holocaust Memorial at the Young Israel of New Rochelle, New York, and an installation for The International Women's Research Center at Brandeis University.

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