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Elysium - between two continents, New York in cooperation with the German Historical Institute London present:

Viktor Ullmann:
Die Weise von Liebe und Tod des Cornets Christoph Rilke
The Lay of Love and Death of Cornet Christoph Rilke

Monday 9th June 2008, 6.00 pm at the German Historical Institute London, 17 Bloomsbury Square, London WC1A 2NJ

Recitation: Gregorij H. von Leitis, Winner of the New York Theatre Club Prize
Piano: Dan Franklin Smith
Introductory Lecture: Michael Lahr

This is a concert in the series "Music from Terezin" organised by Elysium - between two continents, New York and will be given in remembrance of the Victims of the Holocaust. The concert is under the auspices of Karel Schwarzenberg, Foreign Minister of the Czech Republic

The Cornet is based on a text by Rainer Maria Rilke, from which Ullmann chose twelve pieces. Rilke tells the haunting story of a young soldier who experiences love and death in one night. Ullmann’s composition is a rare combination of recitation and piano. The music underlines the dramatic action, comments on it, illustrates it and thus intensifies the effect. The Artistic Director of Elysium – between two continents Gregorij H. von Leïtis, who premiered Ullmann’s Cornet in various cities in Europe and in New York City, will recite Rilke’s text. Dan Franklin Smith is the pianist. The performance starts with a lecture by Elysium’s program director Michael Lahr introducing the topic of the “Music from Terezin”.

Viktor Ullmann was born on January 1, 1898 in Teschen (now part of Poland) into a distinguished Moravian and Hungarian family of Jewish descent. After finishing school in Vienna, he served in the First World War as a volunteer. On his father’s request he first registered with the Law school in Vienna in 1918 but then went on to study music, including composition with Arnold Schoenberg. A brilliantly thoughtful and highly educated musician – a committed follower of the teachings of Rudolf Steiner and the Anthroposophical movement and exponent of Schoenberg’s twelve tone compositional system, Ullmann preferred to live in Prague. When the persecution of the Jews spread to occupied Czechoslovakia in 1939, Ullmann was increasingly put under pressure. In 1942 he was deported to Theresienstadt where he continued to compose. Transported from Theresienstadt to Auschwitz on October 16, 1944, Viktor Ullmann perished two days later in the gas chambers.

Gregorij H. von Leïtis founded Elysium 25 years ago in New York City and has been its Artistic Director ever since. He has directed in many different theaters in Europe and the US, among them the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, the Austrian State Theaters of Linz and Bregenz, the Bloomsbury Theater London, the Guggenheim Museum and the Miller Theater in New York. Since the mid-1990s, he has committed his efforts to discovering, preserving and presenting the works of oft-forgotten musicians and writers who suffered under the Nazi regime. Mr. von Leïtis’ honors include the Knight’s Cross of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, and the New York Theatre Club Prize in 1985 for his direction of Bertolt Brecht’s Jewish Wife. He is the Chairman of the Erwin Piscator Award and an Advisor for the Ullmann Foundation London, for the Jewish Music Institute London, and for the Nietzsche Forum Munich.

Dan Franklin Smith has been working with Elysium since 1996 and became its Music Director in 2005. Under his musical direction Egon Lustgarten’s opera Dante in Exile received its world premiere at the Elysium Festival Bernried 2005. He conceived various Musical-Literary Collages, such as A Crack in the Creation and New Beginnings: Fragments of an Era. In the past years he regularly gave piano solo recitals at the Elysium Festival Bernried. In 2004, he recorded two piano concerti (a premiere) by the Swiss late-romantic composer Hans Huber with the Stuttgart Philharmonic Orchestra. In the US he has appeared as a soloist, chamber musician and vocal accompanist at such venues as the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., the Cleveland Museum, Avery Fisher Hall and Alice Tully Hall, and the Savannah Music Festival.

Michael Lahr studied philosophy in Munich and Paris and received his Master of Arts with a thesis on Michel Foucault’s Concept of Subjectivity. As dramaturge of Elysium he has unearthed the works of numerous composers who emigrated from their native countries under the pressure of the Nazi Regime. He also is the executive director of the Lahr von Leitis Archive & Academy.

Founded 25 years ago in New York City, Elysium fosters artistic and academic dialogue, creative and intellectual exchange and friendship between the US and Europe. Since its founding Elysium’s special concern has been to unearth and present works of artists persecuted by the fascist regimes of the mid-20th century.