The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 United States Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Exhibit of 18 violins tells story of the Holocaust
David Russell, distinguished professor of violin at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, examines one of the violins on display at the Violins of Hope exhibit at the university in Charlotte, N.C. Eighteen violins recovered from the Holocaust and restored by Israeli violin maker Amnon Weinsten made their U.S. debut on Sunday, April 15. Some were played by Jewish prisoners in Nazi concentration camps, while others belonged to the Jewish Klezmer musical culture. AP Photo/Chuck Burton.

By: Martha Waggoner, Associated Press

CHARLOTTE.- When a musician plays a violin long enough, the instrument is imprinted with its owner's way of making sound. If someone else picks it up, they learn to play it in a way that honors its history.

So when David Russell places a violin played in the World War II concentration camp of Auschwitz under his chin, he lets the violin tell him how to do it. The Auschwitz violin and 17 others with connections to the vanished world of Europe's prewar Jewish communities are part of a new exhibit and performance series called "Violins of Hope."

"When the violinists in 'Violins of Hope' play these instruments and they find how to make these instruments sound their best, they're actually bringing back patterns from the former performers who used to play them," said Russell, a music professor at the University of North Carolina Charlotte. "So we get an imprint, as it were, of that person. They're with us, they're in the concert."

"Violins of Hope" opened today at UNC Charlotte Center City and will remain on view through April 20 and again April 22-24. The program includes related exhibits at other museums and several performances using the violins. The project's final concert will take place April 21 at the Charlotte Symphony, with noted violinist Shlomo Mintz taking part.

The violins were first played publicly in 2008 in Jerusalem and then exhibited and played in 2010 in Sion, Switzerland. They've never before been exhibited or played together in North America.

Some violins were played at concentration camps; others were used to play klezmer music, a lively, soulful Jewish folk music popular in prewar Eastern Europe. The Holocaust all but extinguished the klezmer tradition but it's had a revival in the U.S. in recent decades.

All the violins were restored by master violin maker Amnon Weinstein, 73, who says the violins provide a way to teach young people about the Holocaust, in which about 6 million Jews and 5 million others were murdered by Nazis.

"It's very important. I hope people will understand," said Weinstein, who believes 400 of his family members died in the Holocaust, though his parents survived by moving to Palestine in 1938. "You cannot bring in dead people. But the violins speak for the people."

Weinstein began the "Violins of Hope" project in the 1990s, but the genesis dates back to the end of World War II. His father, Moshe, also made violins. At the end of World War II, members of the Palestine Philharmonic Orchestra began bringing their violins to Moshe Weinstein with this directive: Buy my violin or I will destroy it.

The reason: Many of the violins were German-made and the musicians wanted nothing else to do with them after the atrocities of war. Moshe Weinstein bought the violins, which stayed in his shop until his son had an idea.

Amnon Weinstein understood that those violins had saved the lives of those musicians and their families. The orchestra's director, Bronsilaw Huberman, had brought over hundreds of Jewish musicians from Europe to play before the war. Those who stayed in Israel survived. Those who returned to Europe were never heard from again.

He restored first one violin, then another. People learned of his project and contacted him, offering their instruments.

The project also is a way to take back ownership of the violins from the Nazis, who perverted music to their own ends. They used music "as a weapon against these people, psychologically, emotionally and spiritually," Russell said. "They made the prisoners in the concentration camps play happy music for public executions and as people were being marched to the gas chambers.

"While it's unthinkable to use music in that way, it also provided these people even momentary escape from the hell they were living in, where they could still glimpse a few minutes of beauty and remember a time before all that darkness set in."

And the music saved the lives of some of those musicians, who weren't gassed because they could provide a service for the Nazis.

"The easiest way to teach and to talk about the Holocaust is through music," Weinstein said. "Then you can open yourself a little bit more for all the atrocities that happened, to try to understand. You cannot understand. You can try a little bit to understand.

"After the war, everything changed in the world. Nothing is the same like it was before. A violin, it's exactly the same like it was in 1500 when the first violins in the world were created."

While Weinstein has restored more than 30 violins, Russell decided on 18 for the Charlotte exhibit because the Hebrew word for 18, chai, also means life.

Weinstein also has a few violins that he will never restore, including one he got about six weeks ago from a bow maker in Washington, D.C., who bought the instrument from a rabbi with the intention of restoring it. When he opened the violin, he found "Heil Hitler 1936" and a swastika scratched in the wood.

The bow maker offered it to Weinstein with much the same threat as those musicians delivered decades ago to his father: Take this or I will burn it.

"Send it to me as a gift, and the violin will stay open for eternity, never to be restored," Weinstein responded.

The person who defaced the violin thought his aggressive scratches of hate would never be seen. "But it was such a degree of evil that they wanted this Jewish person to be playing a violin that in its soul was saying 'Heil Hitler' and had a swastika," Russell said. "So that one deserves to never be played again."

"Never," Weinstein said.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

Today's News

April 17, 2012

Nude model causes a commotion in Urs Fischer exhibition at Palazzo Grassi

Israel Antiquities Authority inspectors seize two covers of ancient Egyptian sarcophagi

Artifacts from the ancient city of Morgantina in central Sicily go on view at the Getty Villa

Christie's New York announces the sale of six major works by artist Gerhard Richter

Christie's announces 20th century British and Irish art including iconic L. S. Lowry oils and drawings

Fans recall one of the 20th century's greatest American artists: Jackson Pollock at 100

Freeman's to sell property from the estate of New York fashion stylist Janet Brown

Sotheby's Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale to be held on 2 May 2012 in New York

Museum of Fine Arts, Saint Petersburg premieres important gifts of Soviet photography in exhibition

Dallas Museum of Art appoints Gabriel Ritter as Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art

Turner Contemporary announces £13.8 million impact on Kent economy in first 12 months of operation

1949 Bigsby solid body guitar headlines Heritage guitar event at Dallas Guitar Show

Executive Director David Setford to leave Hyde Collection; National search for successor planned

Bonhams offers private collection of iconic Hermès bags in Knightsbridge Jewellery sale

Adventures in the Human Virosphere: Three-dimensional models to understand human viral infections

Modern art, rare silver, tobacciana featured in May 5 Auction at Nest Egg

Exhibit of 18 violins tells story of the Holocaust

Forever challenging conventional assumptions about art and design at SOFA New York

Philip Mould discovers the Patron Saint of Transvestites in New York saleroom

John Giorno is author of Socrates Sculpture Park's new Broadway Billboard series

Most Popular Last Seven Days

1.- Holocaust 'masterpiece' causes uproar at Venice film festival

2.- To be unveiled at Sotheby's: One of the greatest collections of Orientalist paintings ever assembled

3.- Bender Gallery features paintings by up and coming Chicago artist Michael Hedges

4.- Lévy Gorvy exhibits new and historic works by French master in his centenary year

5.- Artificial Intelligence as good as Mahler? Austrian orchestra performs symphony with twist

6.- Fascinating new exhibition explores enduring artistic bond between Scotland and Italy

7.- Exhibition explores the process of Japanese-style woodblock production

8.- Robert Frank, photographer of America's underbelly, dead at 94

9.- The truth behind the legend of patriot Paul Revere revealed in a new exhibition at New-York Historical Society

10.- Hitler bust found in cellar of French Senate

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful