Remembering Viktor Ullmann

From Dec ’10 Spotlight:

Fall festivals are over. Many special guests have come and gone. Now it’s time to replenish our shelves before the winter snows begin.


Then back to Frances Parker High School, where University of Chicago ethnomusicologist Philip Bohlman stunned our Chicago Humanities Festival audience with his poignant meditation on “the body in confinement.” Accompanied on piano by his wife Christine, he presented poems and concert pieces written in Theresienstadt, highlighting work created by Viktor Ullmann just before he was deported to Auschwitz in 1944.

As artistic director of the New Budapest Orpheum Society, Bohlman personally added three of Ullmann’s transcendent songs to Jewish Cabaret in Exile. This CD also includes the showstopper “I’m an Irrepressible Optimist,” sung with a dazzling combination of death-defying exuberance and world-weary irony by baritone Stewart Figa (Cantor of Temple Har Zion in River Forest).

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