Don’t Forget About Me: The Short Life of Gideon Klein, Composer and Pianist

(2 customer reviews)

ISBN: 978-0-907689-22-5
Release Date: 2022-12-16
Author: David Fligg
Series: Musicians' Lives

by David Fligg

Royal octavo
110 illustrations

‘Don’t Forget about Me’ chronicles the extraordinary and moving story about the young Czech pianist and composer Gideon Klein. Standing on the threshold of what was to be an auspicious career, Klein’s musical activities in Prague were ruptured, as he, his family and friends were deported, interned in the Terezín (Theresienstadt) prison camp and ghetto. There his life took an even more unexpected turn, as he galvanised prisoners into an astonishing array of musical activities, and he composed his finest and most compelling music.

Until recently, Klein’s music has largely been performed within the context of Holocaust memorialisation. But events commemorating the Klein centenary in 2019 offered audiences and musicians the opportunity to re-assess and reposition Klein’s place in the history of twentieth-century music and European modernism. David Fligg’s monograph on Klein, the first in a quarter of a century, continues this process.

Drawing on hitherto unpublished archival sources, interviews with Holocaust survivors who were imprisoned with him, many rare photographs and detailed musical analysis, ‘Don’t forget about me’ recounts Klein’s life from his Moravian childhood (he was born in Přerov in 1919), charting the development of his musical talent. It presents the first detailed examination of how the teenage Klein engaged with the numerous artistes who were at the centre of the vibrant cultural environment of pre-war Prague. Klein was finally transported to an isolated and bleak Auschwitz sub-camp, in the freezing closing weeks of 1944, where he was killed in a massacre by the retreating prison guards.

His story, along with the compositions which remarkably survived Terezín, is one of the most fascinating of Czech Jews during the Holocaust, and documents how one young man continued to make music in the face of evil.

2 reviews for Don’t Forget About Me: The Short Life of Gideon Klein, Composer and Pianist

  1. :

    I am a lover of chamber baroque and classical music! Gideons Trumpet as it is in my craft of listening to the sullen art blows deeply w/in me in the compositions of Gideon Klein: We will not forget you! Love Billy Weiss.

  2. :

    ‘This new biography by David Fligg is a powerful study of a clearly remarkable young man whose fate embodies the appalling legacy of the Nazi regime. […][Fligg] writes with scholarly insight leavened by passion and dedication. […]

    Fligg is very good at detailing the range and variety of Klein’s activities in the camp. Compositions are discussed in some detail but not in a manner that requires the reader to have great technical musical knowledge. Interestingly for several of the works pages of Klein’s original manuscripts are reproduced. […]

    This is not the first biography about Gideon Klein, but it is the first in many years and obviously makes use of the most recent and detailed information that has come to light. Nearly every page has copious footnotes and alongside the main text there are valuable appendices of a list of works and a timeline. Fligg describes the book as “an odyssey to discover Gideon Klein”. But it is more than that, it is a memorial to all those whose lives were swept away by the mindless ideology and inhuman cruelty of the Nazi regime. Klein might represent one of those whose creative light burnt brightest but the personal tragedy of every individual murdered and those left behind to mourn is represented here too.

    A powerful and compelling study of an artist who will not be forgotten.’

    —Nick Barnard, MusicWeb International

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