A Requiem for Auschwitz

Yesterday, the 3rd of May, a Requiem for Auschwitz: a monument in music, film, images and words received its premiere in the Nieuwe Kerk, Amsterdam.
Requiem for Auschwitz is a shared moment for representatives of the Jewish, Roma, Sinti and other victim groups. It is a living proof of the power of culture against discrimination and exclusion.

This event is based on the composition Requiem for Auschwitz by the self-taught Dutch Sinto musician Roger ‘Moreno’ Rathgeb. The composition was performed by the Roma- und Sinti Philharmoniker from Frankfurt am Main, conducted by Rom conductor Riccardo M Sahiti.

The website www.sintimusic.nl states:

‘The piece has been appraised by expert composers and orchestra directors, among others Jean Lambrechts (Belgium), Riccardo Sahiti (Germany), Jeff Hamburg (USA) and Jirí Stárek (Czech Republic). They also removed some imperfections. They all are very enthusiastic about the quality of the piece and are convinced it merits performance.’

Meeting Roger ‘Moreno’ Rathgeb, the Sinto composer of A Requiem for Auschwitz, at the première in The Nieuwe Kerk, Amsterdam, May 3rd, 2012

Indeed, in 2010 one of the people without whom the Requiem for Auschwitz would not have been possible, Albert Siebelink from the International Gipsy Festival, asked me to look at the score and to see if it was worthwhile trying to get it performed. After studying the work, I realized that this piece had an important historical place in modern European music, Rathgeb, being a Gipsy musician, is one of the first Gipsy musicians to take on the Western classical musical language. To do that in a classically oriented Requiem dedicated to the memories of all the victims of the Holocaust is such a sweeping gesture of solidarity and consolidation that I felt it would be an honour for me to do anything I could do to help the promotion of this piece. It was obvious from the score that Rathgeb understood the tradition of the Requiem and it was moving to see how he was able to incorporate his own language into that tradition. After the performance in the Nieuwe Kerk, this became clear to the entire audience, and one heard comparisons to for instance Verdi and Fauré.

With Zoni Weisz, one of the organisers of the Requiem for Auschwitz project

My letter of recommandation:

“It is with great pride that I am able to recommend to you Roger “Moreno” Rathgreb as a composer. Although well-known as a violinist, he is, in the tradition of the great violin virtuosi, a competent and sincere composer. Other compositions of his attest to this: his Violin Concerto, his Rapsodie Espagnol and Messe Nr. 1 to name a few examples.

Composer Rathgeb surrounded by admirers after the première of A Requiem for Auschwitz in The Nieuwe Kerk, Amsterdam

Rathgreb’s Requiem for Auschwitz is an important composition. It is a work not only of personal expression, but one which reflects the experiences and captures the feelings of several generations of Europeans. It is an essential expression of great emotional value for the many victims, family members and survivors as well as a monument to the destruction caused by the Second World War.

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of supporting the performances of this work.”

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