About the Concert/Drama "Hours of Freedom"

Murry Sidlin

"HOURS OF FREEDOM: The Story of the Terezin Composer"

Conductor/Concert Innovator/Educator

​Founder and President of The Defiant Requiem Foundation

Creator of Illuminations Concerts

Upcoming Performances of "Hours of Freedom: The Story of the Terezín Composer":

  • May 21st, 2017 - Terezin, Czech Republic (Finale of The 2017 Rafael Schächter Institute for Arts and Humanities) 
  • ​For more information on the 2017 Institute see DefiantRequiem.org: 

The title, "Hours of Freedom", is a quote from prisoner Rabbi Leo Baeck.  In his writings about life in the camp with the lectures, the music and all of the creative artistic events held there, he compares those moments to what life was before Terezín.  These moments offered momentary relief from the horrid conditions, providing the prisoner population temporary relief or “hours of freedom” as Rabbi Baeck referred to them. 

"Hours of Freedom: The Story of the Terezín Composer" combines video with performance and narration to highlight 18 compositions by fifteen composers,  prisoners in the Theresienstadt Concentration Camp during World War II. Viktor Ullmann, Gideon Klein, Zikmund Schul, Pavel Haas, and Hans Krasa were among the best known of the composers imprisoned. "Hours of Freedom" explores how these artists were driven to create music that had the character of hope, of longing; music which sent messages to the future; and music serving as eyewitness to  the Terezin present.  These compositions were for several composers their last musical thoughts and contributions.  Several of these gifted artists were clearly destined to be the next generation of prominent Czech composers, following  Dvořák, Smetana, Janáček, Martinů, and Suk.

The compositions performed range from solo works, duets, trios, and quartets, to compositions for nine and thirteen instrumentalists, with four singers and two narrators. Most notable among these compositions are major excerpts from Ullmann’s 7th Piano Sonata which contains hidden messages that are illuminated prior to performance, and a scene from his riveting  opera "The Kaiser From Atlantis". The "Etude for Strings" by Pavel Haas presents the live string ensemble onstage together with Terezín musicians captured on film in August 1944. Hans Krasa’s songs evoke heart-breaking longing and Karel Svenk’s "Everything is Possible" represents the cabaret music of Terezín from one of Europe’s most imaginative artist/composers.

Created by Foundation President, Maestro Murry Sidlin, "Hours of Freedom: The Story of the Terezín Composer" continues to explore the themes expressed in the concert-drama "Defiant Requiem" – the power of the arts to inspire and sustain human dignity, courage, and hope.

To read more about "Hours of Freedom" and to see a short video about the premiere performance, please click the button below.

​The footage in the short video was filmed at the world premiere performance of "Hours of Freedom" on May 17, 2015, at the Municipal Riding School in Terezín, Czech Republic.