Terezín, 1941-1945: The Most Unlikely, Curious, Accidental, Enigmatic, and Inspiring ‘Improvised University’ in History
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Anspach Hall 161
Murry Sidlin is a distinguished conductor, educator and artistic innovator. He is the founder and president of The Defiant Requiem Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to illuminating the legacy of the Terezín concentration camp prisoners, who, despite monumental suffering, disease and the constant presence of death, found hope and inspiration in the arts and humanities.
Sidlin is credited with having one of the most diverse musical careers in the country today. He has served as conductor of the Oregon Symphony, dean of the School of Music at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., music director of the New Haven Symphony, and music director of the Long Beach Symphony. He has been a guest conductor for symphonies throughout the world.
During World War II, the Nazis established an elaborate scheme at Terezín to show that they were treating prisoners humanely. Terezín was a prison to thousands of scholars, performers, musicians, actors, writers and philosophers from Central Europe. Overwhelmingly Jewish, these prisoners performed, created, taught, lectured and composed not merely as entertainment, but as necessity and nourishment, as critical to staying alive as eating and drinking.
While at Terezín, a chorus of 150 Jewish prisoners learned Verdi’s Requiem (a Catholic Mass) by rote and then performed the piece 16 times before audiences of other prisoners, SS officers and German Army staff members. Their purpose: to sing to their captors words that could not be spoken—a statement of defiance and resistance.
The feature-length documentary Defiant Requiem illuminates the extraordinary, untold story of the brave acts of resistance by the Jewish prisoners at Terezín. Murry Sidlin is featured in this film.
The talk was sponsored by the Dr. Harold Abel Endowed Lecture Series in the Study of Dictatorship, Democracy and Genocide and the College of Humanities and Social and Behavioral Sciences at Central Michigan University.