Sounds from the ashes

Music that the Nazis never wanted you to hear will fill Wolf Performance Hall, November 9.

Presented by Serenata Music and co-sponsored by the London Jewish Community Centre, “Banned Composers, Forbidden Music” commemorates the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht, or Night of Shattered Glass, when Jewish homes, businesses and synagogues were systematically attacked throughout Germany and parts of Austria.

“The Nazi’s had the intention of obliterating every cultural artifact that didn’t fit into their image of what the new Germany should be like,” says Serenata Music director Renee Silberman. “Part of their interest in limiting what kind of music could be heard was that they wanted to eradicate every shred of Jewish existence in German life and German history.”


Non-Jewish music and art deemed ‘degenerate’ or ‘decadent’ was also banned. “Basically, their idea was to control the human mind and the human spirit,” says Silberman. 

But while countless Jewish composers perished in the Holocaust, some of their music survived and is now being rediscovered.

One such composer was Marcel Tyberg, murdered in the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp on December 31, 1944. “Somehow his music came into the possession of a family in the US who allowed us to make use of one of the scores,” says Silberman.

Also on the program – performed by Moshe Hammer, violin, Winona Zelenka, cello (shown above), and Joshua Grunmann, piano – are works by Erwin Schulhoff, Mieceslaw Weinberg, Viktor Ullmann, Erich Korngold and Felix Mendelssohn.

“Why is this music important to us now?” asks Silberman. “It’s part of the thread of human experience. It merits being heard. And it’s an honour to pay tribute to the people who composed in terrible times.”

The concert is part of the London Jewish Community Centre’s Holocaust Education Week, which also features a November 5 screening of “Orchestra of Exile.”

The acclaimed documentary film tells the little-known story of Polish Jewish violin virtuoso, Bronislaw Huberman, who amid Nazi persecution relocated European musicians to British-occupied Palestine and formed the Palestine Philharmonic Orchestra. Director, Josh Aronson, will be on hand to introduce the film.

If You Go:
What: Serenata Music, “Banned Composers, Forbidden Music”
When: November 9 @ 8 pm
Where: Wolf Performance Hall

Nicole Laidler is a former oboist who now expresses herself with words. Visit her at

Chez Cheveux