Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Music and the Holocaust

Posted By on Wed, Dec 4, 2013 at 1:10 PM


click to enlarge SHARPNER / SHUTTERSTOCK
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"Music is God. In difficult times, you feel it especially."

This observation comes from Alice Herz-Sommer, the 110-year-old Holocaust survivor and pianist who's the subject of the documentary The Lady in Number 6. It's a sentiment many of us share, although the difficult times she went through are hard for most of us to even imagine.

Watching the short excerpt below, you'll be hard-pressed not to tear up repeatedly. You'll also find Herz-Sommer to be a truly inspiring woman, one whose devotion to music — she played all Chopin's etudes by memory while interned at the Theresienstadt concentration camp — is confirmed by her ability, even now, to sit down at the piano and play beautifully.

Four years ago, when I saw Gil Scott-Heron perform one of his last concerts, his health was failing and his between-song comments were barely discernible. But when he'd sit down at the keyboard, his playing was perfect, his baritone voice as clear as ever.

Perhaps more than any art form, music and its therapeutic qualities continue to intrigue scientists, even as its aesthetics entrance musicians and their listeners. We are lucky to have it.  



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