Recently, resident piano instructor, Susan See, completed a book review for Clavier Companion magazine which will hopefully be published in an issue later this school year. The book, Alice’s Piano, taken from interviews by Melissa Muller and Reinhard Piechocki, touched Susan as few books ever have before.
Alice Herz-Sommer is the world’s oldest living Holocaust survivor. In 1943, She was deported from Prague to Theresienstadt concentration camp. This camp was used by the Nazis to convince the outside world that the Jews were being treated humanely. Prisoners were filmed giving concerts and plays and then the films given to outside groups such as the Red Cross and others in a propaganda ploy. In fact, thousands died at Theresienstadt before they were sent to the gas chambers at other camps. Alice’s piano playing saved her life. Over the course of a year, she gave more than one hundred classical piano concerts for her fellow prisoners. She credits music as the key to her survival, as well as her ability to acknowledge the humanity in each person, even those who persecuted her.
Today, she lives in London where she still plays piano by memory each day for two to four hours. Born on November 26, 1903, she still finds the beauty in each day. In honoring Alice, the piano players here at school had a bit of birthday cake throughout the day.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ALICE! from the Pianists at Iowa Mennonite School.