A Fragile World
If there’s one thing that the ongoing pandemic teaches us, it’s that life is a somewhat fragile and precarious affair. This was achingly true for Gideon Klein, a young Czech Jew, and a precociously talented musician and music student who, as a teenager, was taking the Prague music scene by storm. Giving regular concerts, attracting enthusiastic press reviews, and being at the heart of the exciting artistic scene in a city that was the powerhouse of European modernism and creativity, the world was his oyster. Then, on one fateful day in March 1939, Hitler’s Nazis occupied Prague, and Gideon’s life, along with tends of thousands of other Czech Jews, collapsed.
My play Gideon Klein: Portrait of a Composer tells Gideon’s remarkable, yet ultimately tragic, story. Using his own words, and those of his family, and with live musicians on stage performing his music, it recounts how an evil regime not only destroyed the life of Gideon, his family, friends and colleagues, but how tyranny can also obliterate art and culture. And yet, it also relates how Gideon, incarcerated in the Terezin prison camp and ghetto, managed to galvanise fellow inmates into performing and composing high-quality music, and how the bleakest conditions gave rise to an astonishing array of creativity.
To mark the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day 2022, Gideon Klein: Portrait of a Composer will be performed at St. Paul’s Concert Hall on Wednesday 26 February.
You can register for tickets to the performance here.
Dr. David Fligg is Honorary Research Fellow at Manchester’s Royal Northern College of Music, and Visiting Professor at Chester University. His book Letter from Gideon was published in Czech in 2019, and the English version, Don’t Forget About Me: The Short Life of the Composer and Pianist Gideon Klein, will be published later this year by Toccata Press.