A Voice for the Silent

International Musician, December 2008 | Go to article overview

A Voice for the Silent


A special violin, silenced for more than 60 years, was played on Veterans Day in Cincinnati. In World War II, the violin, and others like it, accompanied Jewish prisoners to concentration camps, playing a macabre symphony as they marched to their deaths.

The violin has a beautifully inlaid mother-of-pearl Star of David, signifying the instrument was owned by a "klezmer," an Eastern European Jewish folk musician. It was found nearly destroyed among remnants of Jewish fife. Master luthier Amnon Weinstein of Tel Aviv, who restored the violin, said that whoever owned it was probably forced to play at the whim of Nazi guards, sometimes outside in the rain and snow.

The violin was played in November by Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra violinist Sylvia Samis of Local 1 (Cincinnati, OH) for a program commemorating 70 years since Kristallnacht, "The Night of Broken Glass," the symbolic start of the Holocaust.

A daughter of Holocaust survivors, Samis performed music composed in death camps during World War II, featuring a stirring narration, showcasing the hope found in one of the darkest chapters of history. The event was more than just a recital for Samis. …

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