The Rediscovery of Women Composers Persecuted by the National Socialist Regime

On 26 January 2024, the Joseph Hellmesberger Department of String Instruments, Guitar and Harp in Music Education will be joining forces with the Exilarte Center for a concert in memory of eight female composers whose works were proscribed and who were driven into exile by the National Socialist regime due to their Jewish origins. It is in order to memorialise these exceptional talents and open up a space of imagination for their far-too-little-known artistic endeavours that this concert—scheduled to take place on the eve of International Holocaust Remembrance Day—is being held. The selected chamber works will be performed by mdw students from the mdw’s various education-focused departments. In a conversation with Exilarte Centre archivist Katja Kaiser, the musicologist, exile scholar, and Arnold Schönberg Center director Ulrike Anton will contextualise the composers’ biographies and works. Furthermore, Irmgard Bankl is working with her rhythmics and movement education students to develop choreographies that will be performed live to the music at the mdw’s Joseph Haydn-Saal.

This programme includes works by various female composers such as the German-Chilean radio play composer Leni Alexander (1924–2005), whose music adheres to the atonal avant-garde style of the 1950s and 1960s. On the other hand, the legacy of the Austrian dancer and singer Anita Bild, née Lelewer (1915–2012) contains above all entertainment music from the pre-1938 period. The Dutch composer and pianist Henriëtte Bosmans (1895–1952) composed primarily chamber music in a style situated between romanticism and post-romanticism. Contrasting with her music is that of the German-American composer Ursula Mamlok (1923–2016), who taught composition at the Manhattan School of Music in New York and left behind wonderful twelve-tone works. Minimal music art songs by the German-American composer, pianist, and New York University composition professor Ruth Schönthal (1924–2006) will also be on the programme. Likewise the music of Vally Weigl (1894–1982), an Austrian-American composer, pianist, and cofounder of music therapy as an independent field who picked up musically where the late romanticism of late 19th-century Vienna left off. Music by the French composer Germaine Tailleferre (1892–1983)—the only female member of the influential composers’ group Les Six and probably the best-known composer featured in this programme—will also be heard, as will music by the Dutch pianist, composer, and music educator Rosy Wertheim (1888–1949). Following the National Socialists’ attack on the Netherlands, Wertheim held secret concerts in her cellar.

Event tip:
Concert: „Ausgelöscht!?“ Wiederentdeckung von verfolgten Komponistinnen in der Zeit des NS-Regimes
26 January 2024, 6:30 p.m.
Joseph Haydn-Hall
Anton-von-Webern-Platz 1, 1030 Vienna

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