Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Alice Herz-Sommer, "The Woman Who Remembers Mahler"

Alice Herz-Sommer, pianist/teacher and considered the oldest living Holocaust survivor, died February 24, 2014 at the age of one hundred ten. She was interned for two years, 1943-5, at the Theresienstadt camp, during which she she lost her husband (deported to Auschwitz and later Dachau) to typhus.

Herz-Sommer was born in Prague to a German-Jewish family affiliated with "giants of fin-de-siecle culture" (Ross). She met Mahler as a child, and Franz Kafka frequented her home. She taught at the Jerusalem Academy of Music from beginning in 1949 and in 1986 moved to London. Alex Ross recounts his visit with Herz-Sommer at her apartment in London in November 2013 here: http://http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/culture/2013/11/alex-ross-meeting-alice-herz-sommer-oldest-holocaust-survivor"

Why is this meaningful? Ross left his visit "happy to have touched a hand that reaches into vanished worlds." Additionally, from the Holocaust we learn to not tolerate hatred of any kind: that based on race, religion, sexual orientation or what many consider to be the current civil rights movement, mental illness and brain-based behavioral challenges.

Sources: therestisnoise.com
Accessed March 4, 2014

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