Alma Rose: Vienna to Auschwitz

By Richard Newman; Karen Kirtley | Go to book overview

12

Musical Fortress

I cannot escape my loneliness. Only when I play do I rise above it. -- Alma Rosé

Cart Flesch, although he shared Alma's plight in Holland, enjoyed some protection as a native Hungarian. Moreover the Nazis had Dubbed him a "blue knight" (a special category of Jews, possibly designated for ransom purposes, that afforded protection from arrest and exemption from wearing the yellow star). Early in February 1941, he wrote to Alma that he hoped to leave Holland by the end of the year. He was awaiting final contracts from the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia and planned to travel to the States via Berlin and Barcelona. 1

Flesch understood Alma's role in getting her father safely out of Vienna, and he knew of her dangerous wartime flight to Holland in search of support for both Vati and herself. "You are a most courageous person," he wrote, adding emphatically: "You possess the chief qualities fitted for these times: adaptability and enterprise. I have no fear for your future." 2

An anecdote still told in Holland bears out Flesch's faith in Alma's nature. The house concert Alma was to give at the home of Dr. J. L. Noest in Utrecht on 16 March 1941 was important for her career. Not only would she perform with Dutch music critic Rutger Schoute, a fine pianist, but she would play the Beethoven A major "Kreutzer" Sonata, opus 47.

At their first meeting, Schoute produced the edition of the score edited by her father. Alma was pleased and surprised by his gesture. Schoute never suspected that the work was not already in her repertoire.

During their first rehearsal, Alma had difficulty with the fingering prescribed for the long solo passage in the opening movement. Undaunted, she told Schoute they could go on to other passages. She would study the solo part on her own, and she would find out exactly what her father had intended.

Schoute was skeptical. In occupied Holland, how could she get an answer

-156-

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