Dedicated to the ones we lost

The Jerusalem-Weimar Project is the first example of musical cooperation between Israel and the former East Germany.

December 23, 2011 16:39
2 minute read.
CONDUCTOR KARIN Ben-Yoseph and violinist Roee Shil

Jerusalem-Weimar Project 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

A very special concert will crown the 14th Tzlilim Bamidbar (Sounds of the Desert) Festival this Sunday at Kibbutz Sde Boker. Students of two music academies – The Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance (members of the newly founded Youth Philharmonic Orchestra of Jerusalem) and The Liszt School of Music Weimar, Germany – will perform Brahms’s First Symphony, Henri Hertz’s Fifth Piano Concerto and Carl Goldmark’s Violin Concerto.

This concert (which will be repeated in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv) is part of the Jerusalem-Weimar Project, dedicated to the revival of the music of Jewish composers whose lives came to an abrupt end as a result of the rise of the Nazis in Germany.

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“Weimar has always been one of the most important music centers in Europe,” says Michael Wolpe, the artistic director of the festival. “Franz Liszt founded a festival in the early 19th century, which was canceled by the Nazis in 1934 and has been revived in our time. The Nazis also almost completely destroyed the archive of the festival, one of Europe’s oldest, which included immense treasures – scores of the music that was performed during more than a century of its existence, among them many pieces by Jewish composers.”

In August, Wolpe headed a group of Israeli musicians who went to Weimar to perform the forgotten or restored music of Jewish composers.

“It was a very moving event,” recalls Roee Shiloah, a leading Israeli violinist who performs the Goldmark concerto. “There was an amazing understanding between the students from Israel and Germany. At the first rehearsal, the two groups already amalgamated into one musical body. Young conductors from Israel and Germany – Karin Ben- Yoseph and Alexander Mertzin – led the orchestra.”

And Shiloah has nothing but praise for Goldmark’s concerto, which he finds “most beautiful and moving.”

In addition to Weimar (which neighbors the infamous Buchenwald), the joint orchestra appeared in Eisenach and Berlin. “This project was widely covered in Germany, and this is actually the first case of musical cooperation between Israel and the former East Germany.” says Wolpe. “True, Germany was unified quite a few years ago, but in the former communist Germany, they are still rather suspicious about Israel. But now things have started to change, and the prime minister of Turingia and the Israeli and German ministers of education will attend concerts in Israel,”

The soloists of the upcoming concerts in Sde Boker, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv are Shiloah and young Georgian pianist Miriam Batsashvili. Ben-Yoseph and Mertzin will conduct.

December 25 in Sde Boker, the Tzlilim Bamidbar Festival.
Dec. 27 at the YMCA hall in Jerusalem.
Dec. 28 at the Einav Center in Tel Aviv.
Admission to the concerts in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv is free.
For more details, visit

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