World-renowned violinist, pianist to perform
Holocaust Education Month will be launched Sunday, November 1, 7 pm, at the National Gallery of Canada with “A Night to Remember,” a special concert “in memory of those who perished” and “in honour of those who survived.”
The concert, presented by Jewish Family Services (JFS) and Jewish Federation of Ottawa, will feature world renowned violinist Eugene Drucker and pianist Marija Stroke, both children of Holocaust survivors. Proceeds from the event will support JFS programs for Russian Jewish seniors in Ottawa.
Drucker and Stroke will perform compositions by Johann Sebastian Bach, Johannes Brahms and Sergei Prokofiev in what Drucker described as “an intimate program … where the violin and piano function as equal parts.”
The Prokofiev work was chosen, said Drucker, because the duo wanted to include some Russian music in the program.
“Prokofiev wrote music inspired by Jewish music. He was very concerned about the whole Jewish situation,” said Stroke.
Drucker described Prokofiev’s work as sombre. “It’s a magnificent and strong piece of music.”
He said the Bach and Brahms compositions they will perform were chosen to provide a balance to the Prokofiev and are a “sublimely moving, spiritual, elevating kind of music.”
As children of Holocaust survivors, Drucker and Stroke both said they are honoured to perform at a Holocaust Education Month concert.
“The Holocaust had been so close to me and my family. I’m just very honoured to be a part of an event honouring the memories of those who perished and those who survived,” said Stroke.
After being expelled from Yugoslavia for not having proper papers, Stroke’s father went with his family to Paris where they spent most of the Second World War in hiding. After escaping to the south of France, her father was caught climbing over the Pyrenees and imprisoned by the Spanish police in a detention camp.
Drucker is the son of Ernest Drucker,
a German Jew who studied violin at the Cologne Conservatory of Music, and a man whose history has recently become a topic of interest.
“Growing up, I was always aware of the history, the magnitude, of the Holocaust and the convulsion most of the world experienced during the Second World War. I was not led by my father to be bitter to all Germans … he taught me that the Nazi ideology and the German character were not the same,” said Drucker.
Ernest Drucker was supposed to perform at his graduation concert in 1933. However, when he checked the program, his name had been crossed off. He brought it to the attention of his teacher Bram Eldering, who took him to the office of the appointed Nazi administrator who also served as the conservatory’s artistic director. Eldering threatened to resign if Ernest Drucker wasn’t allowed to play.
“He must have been a lenient Nazi, because he offered a compromise,” said Drucker.
His father was allowed to play the first of the three movements, a significant portion of the concerto. Although there was no disturbance at the ceremony, Drucker’s father played in front of rows of Nazi storm troopers.
“It must have felt strange for him to see the first three rows lined with hostile faces,” said Drucker.
The Völkische Beobachter, a Nazi newspaper, wrote a one sentence review: “It is beyond our comprehension that the immortal German violin concerto of Brahms could be entrusted to a Jew.”
This past spring, Drucker appeared in Israel with the Raanana Symphonette Orchestra to perform the full version of Brahms Violin Concerto in D Major, the piece whose first movement his father had played in 1933.
Drucker said that, with the ranks of Holocaust survivors quickly diminishing, it is important the lessons continue to be passed from one generation to the next.
Tickets are $180 for preferred seating with a $140 charitable tax receipt and a reception following the concert, or $50 for general admission.
Contact Rotem Brajtman at Jewish Family Services at 613-722-2225, ext. 467, or email@example.com for tickets or more information.