Violins recovered from Holocaust to be played in special show

Thanks to the Violins of Hope project, the show in Roanoke, Virginia, will feature violins restored after the Holocaust, on which the works of Jewish composers who died in the war will be played.

Albert Einstein's violin is displayed at Bonhams auction house in New York, US, March 6, 2018 (photo credit: EDUARDO MUNOZ / REUTERS)
Albert Einstein's violin is displayed at Bonhams auction house in New York, US, March 6, 2018
(photo credit: EDUARDO MUNOZ / REUTERS)

Violins taken during the Holocaust will be used at the Grandin Theatre in Roanoke, Virginia, in a special show presented by the Roanoke Jewish Federation.

Titled "And Their Music Lives on," the 75-minute show will include works by composers such as Viktor Ullmann, who wrote music while in a concentration camp and who later died in Auschwitz during the Holocaust, The Roanoke Times reported.

The show will be opened with remarks by Virginia Holocaust Museum chief historian Charlie Sydnor and an appearance will be made by Holocaust survivor Arye Ephrath. 

But putting everything together is the Violins of Hope project. 

The initiative was set up years ago by Israeli master violin maker and player Amnon Weinstein, who worked to meticulously restore violins to memorialize Jews who died in the Holocaust. Working with his son Avshalom, Weinstein has gathered a large collection of restored violins and organized concerts for them to be played by renowned musicians. 

AMNON WEINSTEIN restores a Holocaust violin at his workbench.  (credit: DANIEL LEVIN)AMNON WEINSTEIN restores a Holocaust violin at his workbench. (credit: DANIEL LEVIN)

One of the most momentous performances was in 2014, on the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. The German government arranged for Weinstein to fly to Berlin with violins from his collection, which were played by Hitler’s former orchestra, the Berliner Philharmoniker. The audience included German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who was then the minister for foreign affairs. It was an act of defiance and restitution, and a powerful way of showing how the spirits of those who were killed still live on.

“The Roanoke Jewish Federation is extremely excited to present this incredibly important program to Roanoke and feature it at the Grandin Theatre,” Lori Strauss, federation director and a Grandin board of directors member, explained, according to the Roanoke Times. “What amazing synergy is created between history and music with the components of a hidden child, a Holocaust historian, suppressed Jewish composers and restored musical instruments!”

Eve Glover contributed to this report.