Don’t forget about me: The Short Life of Gideon Klein, Composer and Pianist by David Fligg
A most gifted musician of his generation, this book traces Gideon Klein’s short life through his music, his diaries and documents as well as the reminiscences of his friends and family.
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Drawing on hitherto unpublished archival sources, interviews with Holocaust survivors who were imprisoned with him, many rare photographs and detailed musical analysis, ‘Don’t forget about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.
Year first published: 2022