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News - Neikrug: Through Roses

Tuesday, September 09, 2008
On 21 August 1980, a unique work was premiered at London’s Southbank Centre. The composer, Marc Neikrug, was thrilled: “I knew I was doing something unusual with the form, trying to create a play that was intricately entwined with the music.”

Since its premiere, Neikrug’s deeply moving music-theatre work, Through Roses, has been performed over 200 times, translated into 11 languages, and turned into a feature-length film by Jürgen Flimm starring Maximilian Schell. Commissioned by New York’s 92nd Street Y, Through Roses portrays the musical flashbacks of Carl Stern, a Jewish violinist and Holocaust survivor who had been forced to perform for the Nazis at Auschwitz — watching as others, including his wife, were marched to their deaths. Now, as he reconciles his past, Stern, alone in a nursing home, becomes a prisoner of his own overwhelming memories.

Neikrug has explained that his interest in the subject is of a "socio-philosophical" nature, stating: “The foundation of all spirituality and elevated humanity in music lies, for me, in the great German tradition. Playing that music in those camps represents a grotesque paradox, a barbarous act of a supposedly civilized and cultured people. I have no explanation; yet I felt compelled to raise these issues."

Through Roses is presented on 13 November in conjunction with the Jewish Heritage Museum in New York City — the first time it has been performed in this city since its New York premiere in 1981. This concert feautures acclaimed television and film actor Saul Rubinek and is part of the museum’s “Music in Exile: Émigré Composers of the 1930s,” a five day series of concerts and talks celebrating the music of Jewish composers forced to flee the Third Reich and German composers who resisted the Nazi regime.

Please visit the Jewish Heritage Museum's website for more details on the 13 November performance. You may also visit the Fall edition of Schirmer WebNotes to listen to an interview with composer Marc Neikrug, and to see a short clip from the feature-length film by Jürgen Flimm starring Maximilian Schell.

On 25 November, a new recording of Through Roses will be released on Koch Records.

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