Hans Krása was a Czech composer born in Prague on November 30, 1899 to a mixed Czech-German family. Right before Krása was sent to Terezin on August 10, 1942, he composed Brundibar, an opera written for children, based on a play by Aristophanes. However, in July of 1943, the score was smuggled into Terezin where Krása reorchestrated to fit with the various instrumentalists who were available to play the piece at the time. Thus, the Terezin version of Brundibar took place on September 23, 1943 in the hall of the Magdeburg barracks. After its premier, the Nazis realized the potential of Krása’s composition. As a way of benefiting their propaganda initiatives, the Nazis arraged for Brundibar to be the soundtrack for the propaganda film Theresienstadt – eine Doumentarfilm aus den jüdische Siedlungsgebiet (Music and the Holocaust). The same production was also perfomred for the infamous inspection of Terezin by the International Red Cross in September of 1944. It is not only the fact that Krása was his most efficient during his time at Terezing, but that his composition became the theme song of Terezin and a mode of propaganda for the Nazis, which is unique compared to other musicians and compositions of the time (Music and the Holocaust).
The Jewish culture was one that consisted of a rich and vibrant cultural life. Jewish literature, art, music, theater, etc. flourished during the prewar years. Often times the poems, diaries, songs, etc, written by Jewish artists during the Holocaust are used as primary documents to show the artisitc promise that was lost during those years. Therefore, it is misleading to associate music, for example, that was produced during the years of the Holocaust, to Yiddish songs or classical Jewish music t...
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... show the resiliance and resistence of the Jewish people in the face of a tyrant.
What separates Krása from the other musicians and composers imprisoned during the Holocaust was his ability to relate his music to the current struggles. His music was able to highlight the fact that the Holocaust would only be a piece of the Jewish history, relating the Holocaust to a single bar of a holistic score. The last time Brundibar was performed was during the inpsection by the Internation Red Cross in September of 1944, which marked its fifty-fifth performance. Two weeks later, many artists, thinkers, and musicians were transported from Terezin, one of whom was Krása. His legacy today is what made him such an existential figure; Krása’s work highlights the artistic drive and capability not only of htose imprisoned in Terezin, but of those lost in the Shoah.
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