Friday, May 18, 2018

Viktor Ullmann, A Life Composed of Dissonance

Photo of the Day

Viktor Ullman [born in 1888 in Teschen, now Cieszyn, Poland–died in Auschwitz in 1944] shown here in this undated photo, perhaps from the late 1920s, but undoubtedly in better times. In an excellent article for the Orel Foundation, Gwyneth Bravo writes: “Prior to his death in 1944, he wrote that ‘[artistic] form’ must be understood from the perspective of Goethe and Schiller as that which ‘overcomes matter or substance [and where] the secret of every work of art is the annihilation of matter through form—something that can possibly be seen as the overall mission of the human being, not only the aesthetic but ethical human being as well.’”
     His life was marked by dissonance, the last few years only more so, but what he did with this material, chiefly what resided in his brain and his heart, is remarkable. One site dedicated to Viktor Ullmann writes: “Viktor Ullmann was transported to Terezín on 8 September 1942. In the squalor of the ghetto he organised lectures, wrote critiques, performed as a pianist, and continued to compose. He created more than twenty works in captivity, including three piano sonatas, songs and choruses, the melodrama The Song of the Love and Death of Cornet Christoph Rilke based on the poem by Rainer Maria Rilke, and the opera The Emperor of Atlantis, which he did not have time to stage (it was first performed in altered form in 1975, in its original form in 1992). On 16 October 1944 he found himself bound for Auschwitz in a transport which included the conductors Rafael Schächter and Karel Ančerl, the actor Gustav Schorch, composers Pavel Haas, Hans Krása, Gideon Klein, the poet and painter Petr Kien (the librettist of Ullmann’s The Emperor of Atlantis), and many other artists. On 17 or 18 October 1944 Viktor Ullmann was murdered in the gas chambers of Auschwitz.”      For more, go [here] and [here] and [here] and [here] and [here].
Courtesy: Orel Foundation