Thursday, January 19, 2012

Interesting Parallel

In 1944 inmates of the Terezin concentration camp in Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia gave a performance of the Verdi Requiem in front of an audience that included high-ranking Nazi officials, including Adolf Eichmann. The Requiem contains the following lines:

What dread there will be
When the Judge shall come
To judge all things strictly.

A trumpet, spreading a wondrous sound
Through the graves of all lands,
Will drive mankind before the throne.

Death and Nature shall be astonished
When all creation rises again
To answer to the Judge.

A book, written in, will be brought forth
In which is contained everything that is,
Out of which the world shall be judged.

When therefore the Judge takes His seat
Whatever is hidden will reveal itself.
Nothing will remain unavenged.

What the Jewish choristers at Terezin could not tell the Nazi officials directly -- that one day the the Nazi regime would be judged and their crimes would be avenged -- they were able to communicate obliquely through the words of the Requiem.  That was the conscious reason for the inmates' decision to learn and perform the Verdi Requiem.

Listening to the Lacrimosa section of the Verdi  Requiem, I came to see notable parallels between musical phrases in the Lacrimosa and the song Ha-Tikva (The Hope).   "Hatikvah" is the national anthem of Israel. The anthem was written by Naphtali Herz Imber, a secular Galician Jew from Zolochiv (today in Lviv Oblast), who moved to the Land of Israel in the early 1880s.  The anthem's theme revolves around the nearly 2000-year-old hope of the Jewish people to be a free and sovereign people in the Land of Israel.

Perhaps it was the vague resonance of Ha-Tikva in the Verdi Lacrimosa that explains, in part, the concentration camp inmates' decision to perform the Verdi Requiem.  One can always speculate.

The following is a performance of Ha-Tikva:

The following is a piano arrangement of Ha-Tikva, which will allow the reader to follow the vocal line:

The following video contains both a performance of the Verdi Lacrimosa as well as the vocal line (at 1:30 on the video):

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