SONGS OF CHILDREN
This collection of nine poems written by children while
interned at Terezin Concentration Camp were selected as
the lyrics for a cantata composed by Robert
Convery in memory of all children who perished in the
Holocaust. It was first performed in NYC, April of 1991.
The composer wrote in his notes that the ordering of the
poems in the cantata demonstrates a spiritual
transformation, beginning with the naive state of entry
into the concentration camp, the quick and brutal
confrontation with the reality of the camp; a sense of
having one's soul stripped from one's body; a cool vision
of the reality of the camp; and finally, a transcendence
of that reality, an affirmation of life even in the face
of certain death.
The cantata is unified musically by use of a cantus
firmus, the melody of one song divided to provide a
melodic theme for each section. The Jewish folksong of
faith the Ani Maamin, the one chanted by the Jews as they
marched to the gas chambers, is the cantus firmus and the
tune would be recognizable by anyone familiar with this
Terezin was unique among concentration camps. This was
the the fake city of safety, the ruse to fool the world.
For anyone who does not know the full story of it, I am
giving below some links which briefly describe the life
there. The determined preservation of music, art,
education and all that creates culture amidst these
appalling conditions is beyond remarkable.
Two hundred thousand persons passed through there,
fifteen thousand children. Only 132 of those children
were known to have survived.
These poems and children's drawings were hidden at
Terezin inside mattresses and stuffed in cracks between
the walls of houses. They were recovered after the war.
Many of these other poems and drawings are collected in a
book which was published by the Holocaust Museum, "I
Never Saw Another Butterfly."
Thanks to Gloria Lee
for providing all the material for the Terezin web pages.
Phillips Exeter Academy | Performance
Opportunities - they have a CD
recording available from the music department. (However,
this link does not always work.)
Contact: Gloria Lee:
gleelee [at] comcast.net