In Terezín, a Nazi camp where 33,000 people died, a remarkable community of musicians and artists answered despair with creativity. Here is their astonishing world, captured firsthand in lively concert critiques by composer, scholar, and prisoner Viktor Ullmann. We meet Terezín’s choirs and solo artists, luminaries of European cabaret and opera, and a generation of accomplished composers silenced too soon. Paired with Ullmann’s critiques are more than 200 artworks: rarely seen concert posters, programs, portraits, and scenes recovered from their hiding places in barracks walls. Listen as you read to music from Terezín: the accompanying original collection of vintage and modern recordings performed by Terezín survivors and contemporary masters including Yo-Yo Ma and members of the Boston Symphony. Essays and annotations by scholar MARK LUDWIG deepen the journey.
Soon after Ullmann wrote his final concert critique, nearly all the Terezín artists were murdered in Auschwitz. Our Will to Live is a tribute to their creative will.
YO-YO MA: “Our Will to Live takes readers into the world of Terezín’s silenced artists and makes their voices come alive. A testimony to the inextinguishable strength of the human spirit. There are moments of excruciating beauty, there are heartrending stories, all reminding us that if we lose our humanity, we are nothing.”
“This astonishing book is an act of creation from chaos. Here is art, music, humor, precision, speculation, indignation, love — the panoply of human expression dredged from darkness. A wonder.” Rabbi David Wolpe, Sinai Temple, Los Angeles
“Amidst dislocation and death, these artists strived to assert their culture, identity, and creativity. Our Will to Live both celebrates and mourns them. A remarkable homage.” Richard Blanco, 2013 Presidential Inaugural Poet, author of How to Love a Country