IN SEARCH OF THE MUSIC OF THE CAMPS
In the southern Italian town of Barletta a fascinating man breathes new life into forgotten forms of music. For more than twenty years Francesco Lotoro, who trained as a pianist, has been tracking down works composed – with varying degrees of secrecy – in Second World War camps, and recording them with a local orchestra.
With the help of his wife and a handful of friends, this driven 47-year-old has archived more than 4,000 scores, some of them unfinished or fragmented. Symphonies, operas, religious choral pieces, but also folk songs, swing and Romany tunes… imprisoned artists never lost sight of their creative freedom even if, for some, they had to pay for it with their lives.
The author gives us an original and richly diverse book on a little known subject. Chapters about the Maestro and his sometimes fantastical adventures alternate with those devoted to fifteen musician-martyrs of all nationalities and faiths.
Here the reader meets some exceptional characters: “Johnny and Jones”, a jazz duo in the Dutch Westerbork Camp; the Czech composer Rudolf Karel whose last piece was written on toilet paper with a splinter blackened with coal; the Frenchman Émile Goué who gave music theory lessons to his fellow prisoners in the Oflag at Nienburg; the Pole Jozef Kropinski who secretly composed and hid over 400 songs in Buchenwald in 1944…
From Prague to Krakow, from Rome to Paris, this is a race against time to stop their music being forgotten, one in which every note rings like an act of defiance against oppression. This whole chapter of the history of music, which has until now remained silent, is revealed through the pages and scores of the Maestro of Barletta.
Thomas Saintourens was born in 1983 and is a freelance journalist. With a degree from the IEP (centre for political studies) in Bordeaux and a degree in journalism from the IEP in Paris, he is a contributor on several newspapers and magazines, and his work focuses mainly on subjects relating to society. In 2011 he co-wrote Quand j’étais Superman with the rugby player Raphaël Poulain.
L’auteur propose un livre original et d’une grande richesse sur ce sujet méconnu. Les chapitres sur le Maestro et ses aventures parfois rocambolesques alternent avec ceux consacrés à une quinzaine de musiciens martyrs, de toutes nationalités, de toutes confessions.
Le lecteur découvre ainsi des personnages d’exception : « Johnny and Jones », duo jazzy du camp hollandais de Westerbork ; le compositeur tchèque Rudolf Karel, dont la dernière oeuvre fut écrite sur du papier hygiénique au moyen d’une écharde noircie de charbon ; le Français Émile Goué, qui dispensa des leçons de solfège à ses camarades de l’Oflag de Nienburg-sur-Weser, le Polonais Jozef Kropinski, qui composa en secret plus de 400 chansons en 1944, caché dans le camp de Buchenwald…
De Prague à Cracovie, de Rome à Paris, voici une course contre l’oubli, où chaque note sonne comme un défi à l’oppresseur. Un pan entier de l’histoire de la musique, jusqu’ici laissé sous silence, se dévoile au fil des pages et des partitions du Maestro de Barletta.