CORNET: Viktor Ullmann’s Legacy from Terezin

Viktor Ullmann

Viktor Ullmann, © Arnold Schoenberg Center

26.02.2020 - Article

Elysium – between two continents and the Consulate General of the Czech Republic in New York presents a concert and a lecture on March 3, 2020.

The German Consulate General Recommends:

“CORNET: Viktor Ullmann’s Legacy from Terezin ” In remembrance of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Terezin presented by Elysium – between two continents and the Consulate General of the Czech Republic in New York


 “Music from Theresienstadt / Terezin”, introductory lecture by Michael Lahr

Viktor Ullmann (1898 – 1944)

Piano Sonata No. 6, op. 49 - Theresienstadt 1944

“Die Weise von Liebe und Tod des Cornets Christoph Rilke”

“The Lay of Love and Death of Cornet Christoph Rilke”

12 pieces from the poem of Rainer Maria Rilke for recitation and piano - Theresienstadt 1944

Gregorij H. von Leïtis, winner of the New York Theatre Club Prize will recite Ullmann’s “Cornet”

He will be accompanied by internationally acclaimed pianist Dan Franklin Smith

Despite degrading living conditions, despite hunger and pain, despite fear in the face of terror and death, many artists were able to be creative even in the concentration camps. Their art helped them to endure the daily suffering. One of those artists was the composer Viktor Ullmann. Ullmann’s will to be creative was admirable. During his two-year-internment in Terezin / Theresienstadt, Viktor Ullmann composed some of his most beautiful song cycles, a few piano sonatas, and – most of all – his masterpiece, the opera The Emperor of Atlantis, for which Peter Kien, another inmate and a very talented graphic artist and poet, wrote the libretto.

The Cornet is the last composition that Ullmann was able to finish in Theresienstadt, before he was deported to Auschwitz on October 16, 1944, where he and his wife Elisabeth were killed two days later. His music was rescued by a friend who survived the camps. The Lay of Love and Death of the Cornet Christoph Rilke is based on a text by Rainer Maria Rilke, from which Ullmann chose twelve pieces. Rilke tells the haunting story of a young soldier who experiences love and death in one night. Ullmann’s composition is a rare combination of recitation and piano. The music underlines the dramatic action, comments on it, illustrates it and thus intensifies the effect.

Viktor Ullmann stands as an example of the type of individual courage needed in the face of the greatest odds. He managed to turn the cruel and the bitter into the poignant and the profound. When handed imprisonment, hunger and hopelessness, he gave back inspiration in works that transcended his circumstances and continue to invigorate, embolden, celebrate and nourish the human condition to this day. The adamant will to live, the unshakable hope, that the good will prevail, no matter how horrible the attempts are to crush it, this is the message of Ullmann’s music from Theresienstadt.

Location and time:
Bohemian National Hall, 321 East 73rd Street, New York, NY 10021
Tuesday, March 3, 2020 at 7.30 pm

Free Admission. However, tickets are required – For reservations, please go to: cornet

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