By Mike Telin
Composer Erwin Schulhoff, who perished in the Holocaust, wrote in his 1919 avant-garde music manifesto: The idea of revolution in art has evolved for decades…This is particularly true in music, because this art form is the liveliest, and as a result reflects the revolution most strongly and deeply — the complete escape from imperialistic tonality and rhythm, the climb to an ecstatic change for the better.
“I love that quote,” violinist Annie Fullard said during a telephone conversation. “It’s so upsetting that Schulhoff’s life was cut short.” On Friday, December 4 at 8:00 pm in Mixon Hall at the Cleveland Institute of Music, the Cavani Quartet (Annie Fullard and Mari Sato, violins, Kirsten Docter, viola, and Merry Peckham, cello) will perform two pieces by Schulhoff — Divertimento for String Quartet, Op. 14 and String Sextet — as part of a CIM Violins of Hope Faculty Recital.
The concert will also include Antonín Dvořák’s Cypresses with Robert Conrad as narrator, and the traditional Hebrew melody Ani Ma’amin (“I Believe”). The Cavani will be joined by guest artists Rebecca Albers, viola, and Julie Albers, cello. A pre-concert lecture with composer Oded Zehavi (Israel Institute Schusterman Visiting Artist) and Holocaust survivor Jacqueline Mendels Birn will begin at 7:15.
The Violins of Hope Cleveland project centers around a collection of nineteen violins currently on display at the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage. The instruments have been lovingly restored by Israeli luthier Amnon Weinstein as a living memorial to those who perished under the Nazis. During Friday’s concert, Annie Fullard will perform on the “Auschwitz” violin, and Mari Sato will perform on the “Haftel” violin. “Amnon was very generous, and he told me that I should try as many of the instruments as I could. He does want them to be played, because their bigger meaning comes to life when they are played.”
Fullard first tried the instrument that belonged to Heinrich Haftel, who served as a first violinist in the Vienna Concert Orchestra before the Nazis made it impossible for him to make a living. Haftel went on to serve as a member of the Palestine Symphony Orchestra, a forerunner of today’s Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.
“The curator of the exhibit brought out another instrument that she said was the ‘Auschwitz’ violin,” Fullard recalled. “I picked it up and started to play it, and I felt a tremendous sadness that was overwhelming. I actually couldn’t stop playing it. It has a presence, a voice.” The owner of the violin is not known, and Fullard said it is astonishing that Amnon Weinstein was able to put it back together and give it life. Read the article at ClevelandClassical.com