"In view of our present societal situation, not only in Germany but worldwide -- both the renewed growth of nationalism and right-wing radicalism but unfortunately also anti-Semitism -- it is of paramount importance that we take an unambiguous stand. Our today's event is to show this stand."
-- Gisela Kallenbach, Event Sponsor (Director, Synagogue & Jewish Community of Leipzig; former
June 2019 remarks introducing Two Pianos Leipzig events
Berlin, 1933: a group of dismissed Jews petitions for a separate organization that will allow suddenly-unemployed Jewish artists
to perform for Jewish-only audiences. The “Culture-League of
German Jews” (Kulturbund Deutscher Juden) is approved by Joseph Goebbels’ Ministry of Enlightenment. Dozens of Kulturbund chapters soon form, by 1935 becoming the sole public access to culture
for Jews still in Germany. Early members of its Leipzig branch include three young Jewish
concert pianists and their music-loving businessman husbands.
A Concert Documentary
Two Pianos highlights its characters' tenacity, passion and devotion to craft. As talented student “alien residents” at Leipzig's famed Conservatory founded by Felix Mendelssohn, Anna, Halina and Tanya mastered new languages and cultures. As young Jewish mothers they advanced their professional piano careers while juggling child-care and Nazi restrictions. Their paths soon diverged through flight from Germany on one hand, and deportation, the Warsaw Ghetto and forced-labor camps on the other. They reconnected as naturalized American citizens, teachers and performers, remaining close friends for the rest of their long lives.
June 2019: Two Pianos programs are part of Leipzig Germany's "Schalom Week," a city-sponsored week-long welcome for former Jewish residents and their descendants. As in Philadelphia, the events are recorded, with a subsequent highlights video. The musical program expands. The audience materials now include a German-language performance program and an illustrated 32-page German-language brochure that virtually replicates key parts of the 2018 Philadelphia exhibit, making it "portable" in a new way..
October 2019: The Institute of Jazz Studies (Rutgers University/Newark) sponsors our Concert Documentary. now featuring new audio/video clips, an English-language Exhibit brochure, and an expanded Exhibit. The full-length DVD includes post-performance Q and A. A new highlights video features the dark journey of Halina and her daughter Jola from their forced 1938 deportation from Leipzig, through the Warsaw Ghetto and labor/DP camps, to their eventual Newark homes.
29 May 2022: The first open-air and first post-COVID Two Pianos performance, at Untermyer Gardens (Yonkers NY) -- once called "the most
beautiful garden in America" -- connects Rebecca's 1927 Beethoven performance at Hebrew
University on Mt. Scopus with NY millionaire/Progressive reformer Samuel Untermyer's
pledge of $100,000 for a permanent Mt. Scopus stage after that event.
Untermyer uses the international radio dedication of this Minnie
Untermyer Memorial Auditorium (April 1933) to call for a global boycott
of Nazi Germany. Shortly afterwards Anna and Halina give their first
Kulturbund concert (Leipzig 1934). Three new highlights videos capture various threads of this performance. A new full-length DVD includes post-performance audience Q & A.