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Pianist, composer and music therapist Renan Koen, will be performing her project, “Before Sleep” in Zorlu PSM on April 13th. The performance includes the stories and compositions of four Jewish composers that lived in a concentration camp in Terezin, located in today’s Czech Republic, during the second world war. The event is endorsed by the Municipality of Şişli, Anatolian Culture and 500th Year Foundation. The son of Richard Wagner’s grandchild will attend the event as a speaker. We talked about the project with Koen.
Selay Sarı: Which composers are in the focus of “Before Sleep”?
Renan Koen: Pavel Haas, Viktor Ullmann, Gideon Klein, and Zikmund Schul. Schul could never leave Theresienstadt, Hass and Ullmann were killed in the gas chambers in Auschwitz, and their youngest Klien lost his life in Fürstengrube.
Selay Sarı:Hans Krasa was also in Theresien and composed music.
Renan Koen: Yes. In fact, he composed an anti-Nazi opera in the camp titled “Brundibar”. Brundibar is not in our program, but in a video that will be shown, and is prepared by Gottfried Wagner starts and ends with it. So, the audience will have a chance to hear that, too.


Selay Sarı:How did they compose in such circumstances?
Renan Koen: Some of them were able to bring their instruments with them, but for a long time they didn’t have a piano. Gideon Klien and his friends found a piano with a broken leg in a ghetto surrounding the camp, and at night four young men secretly carried the piano to the camp. In the meantime, we have to remember that the people in the camp were subjected to extreme working conditions for 100 days. They were working continuously and when they had the time, they were creating. Not only the composers, writers too. Most of the people in Terezin were artists. The Nazi’s aim was to control and destroy Jewish art and culture.
Selay Sarı: How were these compositions discovered?
Renan Koen: Unlike Auschwitz, when the Russians entered Terezin, they didn’t damage it much. For that reason, some of the notes were discovered in tin boxes, and some of them were given to the remaining people in the camp by the composers before they were sent to Auschwitz. Even today, some compositions that are yet unknown can be discovered in some private collections. I am trying to reach to all of them.
Selay Sarı: How can you define the “mood” of the compositions?
Renan Koen: Pavel Hass’ “Al S’Fod” is a very good example to your question. “Don’t mourn, don’t cry” says the composition, “however they try to suppress you, stand up and resist”. In a way, the compositions reflect the incredible solidarity and and struggle to survive among the people in the camp.<
Interview / Selay Sarı / Newspaper / Milliyet / April, 10 2015 /Source
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