Arts Blog

Cabaret Songs and Satire from Theresienstadt

In recent decades, many recordings, resulting from research, have brought to light the music composed and performed at Theresienstadt (now Terezin), the World War II concentration camp to which thousands of Jews were deported, as part of the systematized process of ultimately transporting them to death camps. Many perished, either at Theresienstadt or at their final destinations, but their music and artwork survived. So far, we have recordings of chamber and piano music, and songs, and even orchestral works, but what completes the representation of this place and the experience of the prisoners there, is the uniquely European form of entertainment known as Cabaret. This new recording, the result of over 20 years of work, research and performance, brings this almost incongruous musical style to light.

I had the privilege of speaking with composer and pianist, Sergei Dreznin. Dreznin, along with Gerhard Bronner, compiled complete songs and texts written in Theresienstadt and, where there were missing elements, composed music in the style of the time. Listening to these songs created in my mind a vivid image of what it must have been like to be in a darkened space, and to hear these lyrics sung for people who, as Mr. Dreznin put it, found a way to celebrate life, art, and to be able to “laugh at themselves, and their executioners.” It was a moving experience talking with Mr. Dreznin about what these people endured, and along the way, my guest shares his own stories, and even a little playing right from the piano. We also share some highlights from this new CD.

Kamp Songs and Satire From Theresienstadt
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