Work of the Week - Arnold Schoenberg: A Survivor from Warsaw
In just 99 bars of music, Arnold Schoenberg was able to portray the suffering and persecution of an entire population group. His monumental work, A Survivor from Warsaw, scored for narrator, men’s chorus and orchestra, will be performed on Sunday 20th October 2011, at Bremen Cathedral by the Bremen Philharmonic with the Bremen Cathedral Chorus. The narrator will be Klaus Merten and Tobias Gravenhorst will conduct the performance.
The text for the cantata was written by Schoenberg himself and focuses on the Nazi reign of terror by portraying a scene in the Warsaw Ghetto. In its closing chorale, the narrator calls out "Shema Yisroel" a Jewish statement of faith in what is a devastating emotional climax of the work.
Luigi Nono described the work as a masterpiece and citing its powerful relationship between the text and music he stated that it was "the aesthetic and musical pinnacle of our era".
The work was finally premiered in the USA in 1948 after delays caused by eye complaints which meant Schoenberg had trouble preparing the score. Helped by fellow composer Réne Leibowitz to complete the manuscript, A Survivor from Warsaw has since gone on to become one of Schoenberg’s most famous works.
Schott Music is very proud to now be the world-wide representative of this classic work.
Photo Warsaw Ghetto: German Federal Archive