Jewish Museum in Prague


Silenced Tones - The life and work of the Czech Jewish composers Gideon Klein and Egon Ledeč

Robert Guttmann Gallery 16/4 - 15/6 2003

This exhibition presents the life and work of two musicians - Gideon Klein and Egon Ledeč – with special focus on the period before World War II. Gideon Klein, born in 1919, became actively involved in music in the 1930s, when he launched his career as a concert pianist and set about composing; his works became of increasing importance. The Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia, however, put a violent end to what was a promising career. He continued composing, but was no longer able to study or perform in public concerts.

Gideon Klein spent three years in the Terezín ghetto and was later deported to Auschwitz. All prospects of a hopeful future as a pianist, composer and, perhaps, conductor were definitvely dashed in January 1945, when, at the age of twenty-five, he died in the Fürstengrube concentration camp.

Egon Ledeč was born in 1889. He began his career as a musician after 1918, when he joined the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra as assistant member. It was a dream come true for Ledeč when, in 1926, he was accepted as a full member of the Czech Philharmonic under the direction Václav Talich, later becoming second Concert Master. He also composed a number of popular works and, notably, an exceptional musical monologue with symphony orchestra to the words of Fráň Šrámek s “Eternal Soldier”; this represents his personal declaration of faith and hope, but is also a presage of his tragic end.

Even the years spent in the Terezín ghetto were closely connected to Ledeč’s lifetime missions – music. His life came to an end in Auschwitz in 1944.


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