Gideon Klein

by popularity
Duo for Violin and Viola
Gideon Klein (6 December 1919 – c. January 1945) was a Czech pianist, classical music composer, educator and organizer of cultural life at Theresienstadt concentration camp.
Klein was born into a Moravian Jewish family in Přerov and, showing musical talent early, studied piano with Růžena Kurzová and Vilém Kurz, and composition with Alois Hába (in 1939–40). He was forced to abort his university studies in 1940 when the Nazis closed all institutions of higher learning following their occupation of Czechoslovakia in March 1939. Since compositions and performances by Jewish musicians were banned, his own works could not be performed, though he managed to perform as a concert pianist under several aliases for a time, e.g., under the pseudonym Karel Vranek. Despite those harsh circumstances Klein managed to continue composing. In 1940 he was offered a scholarship at the Royal Academy of Music in London, but by that time anti-Jewish legislation prevented his emigration.
In December 1941 he was deported by the Nazis to Terezín concentration camp, where along with Leoš Janáček's pupil Pavel Haas, Hans Krása, and Schoenberg's pupil Viktor Ullmann he became one of the major composers at that camp. He gave concerts in secret, but the camp became one of the few in which artistic activity was eventually permitted by Nazis on any scale, if only to deceive the broader public as to their real intentions. His works from these years include music for string quartet (similar in tone to Berg's opus 3 work), a string trio, and a piano sonata, among others. Moreover, Klein performed as solo pianist at approximately 15 recitals, and also participated in chamber music performances (member of piano trio, piano quartet).
Klein was deported to Auschwitz in October 1944 and then to Fürstengrube, a coal-mining labour camp, in October 1944, less than two weeks after completing his string trio. He died under unclear circumstances during the liquidation of the Fürstengrube camp in January 1945. He had confided his manuscripts to Irma Semtska, his Theresienstadt girlfriend, before leaving, and they were turned over to his sister Eliska at the war's end.
His work was influenced by Alois Hába, Arnold Schoenberg, Alban Berg, and particularly Leoš Janáček. He used melody from Janáček's Zápisník zmizelého as a theme in his Divertimento (1940).
Recordings on Northeastern and on Koch International Classics, for example, have allowed modern listeners to evaluate the quality of his compositions of the 1940s.
In Prague, German artist Gunter Demnig collocated two Stolpersteine für Gideon Klein and Ilona Kleinová.
There is a Klein Trio, playing his music
[Category:Musicians from Přerov]]