World premiere: November 4, 2007, Benaroya Hall, Seattle, WA, at Music of Remembrance's concert commemorating Kristallnacht.
Gerard Schwarz offers the following remarks:
My experience in writing In Memoriam (2005) for Music of Remembrance was a pivotal one--it brought me back to the joy of composition after a long absence, and so I was happily honored to be asked by Mina Miller to compose a new work for MOR's Tenth Anniversary. In keeping with MOR's mission, I decided to compose a work in memory of my mother's parents, Rudolf and Jeanette Weiss, who, in 1942, were shot at the edge of an open grave at the concentration camp in Riga, Latvia. Rudolf was exactly my age now when he was murdered in 1942. Although my parents emigrated to our country in 1939, my grandparents' exit was denied, their sad fate sealed in that decision. I have composed this work as a tone poem, so that through music I can honor the grandparents I never knew. The work is in five sections played without pause. The introduction is intended to be somewhat unsettling. A haunting melody, representing the uncertainty of the times, is played by the flute and accompanied by harp and celesta. The strings enter in an accompanying role until the second section begins, which is the love music, depicting the loving and passionate relationship between Rudolf and Jeanette. This leads directly to the Nazi march theme, which is based on the opening material of the flute, played here by the horn. The anger and hostility of the march ends abruptly and a group of Viennese waltzes, nostalgic memories, are played off stage by two violins, doublebass, and piano. These reminiscences are interrupted by disturbing material played by the horn, bassoon, and flute. The final waltz, transformed from C major to C minor, is played on stage by the strings, with cello obbligato. This leads directly into the funeral march or death march, as my grandparents were denied the dignity of a funeral. I end my work with the return of the same haunting chords that conclude the opening section. I wrote Rudolf and Jeanette this past August and orchestrated it in September.