Sunday, April 27, 2014

Yom HaShoah - Holocaust Commemoration Day

We observed yesterday Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day in Wellington, with music instead of speeches. Julian Baker and Xin James Jin, two students at the New Zealand School of Music played six pieces, one between each candle lighting, from Bartók's 44 Duos for Violin. They played these on the two violins that Clare Galambos Winter, a survivor of Auschwitz, bequeathed to the School of Music. The music was very appropriate. We remembered not only the approximately six million Jews killed, but an entire civilized world that was lost.. These violin duos are like a sketch book, a source book for Bartók's music, and they represent the greater Hungary that he loved, a land that was a mosaic of many ethnic communities living side by side, with mutual respect. The collection included Slovak, Vlach, Ruthenian, Rumanian, Serb, and even Arab music as well as Hungarian folk music. The people of this music were not 'tolerated', a word widely used in discussing the response to the Holocaust, they were respected. Bartók's musical world was not filled with mythical heroes, titans, supermen, grand romantic notions, but with myriad references to the music of the many people living at peace with each other. So we remembered that the Holocaust was not a huge lost just to the Jewish world but to the entire liberal, humanist Western civilization.