“Iron & Coal”: Jeremy Schonfeld in Wien

jeremy_schonfeld.jpgAm 28. Februar 2011 fand in Wien die erste “Listening Party” für “Iron & Coal”, das neue Konzeptalbum des Komponisten Jeremy Schonfeld (”37 Notebooks”, “Drift”, “Blue Skies and All”), statt.

“Iron & Coal”, das in Berliner und Wiener Tonstudios eingespielt wurde, ist ein Konzeptalbum in Erinnerung an die Millionen Opfer des Holocaust - und für die, die überlebt haben, für Schonfelds Familie, für Jeremy Schonfeld selbst und vor allem für seinen Vater.

Jeremy Schonfelds Vater Gustav Schonfeld (78) ist ein Auschwitz-Überlebender. Seine Autobiographie “Absence of closure” ist im Februar 2009 erschienen. Gustavs Schicksal und sein Umgang damit waren dominante Themen im Leben von Jeremy Schonfeld. Als Gustav an seinem Buch arbeitete, war Jeremy sein erster Leser.
Als Komponist war es Jeremy Schonfeld eines Tages klar, dass er das Thema musikalisch verarbeiten wollte. Zuerst überlegte er, die Biographie seines Vaters als Basis eines Musicals oder einer Oper zu verwenden, erkannte aber rasch, dass das die Geschichte seines Vaters war und er für seine Aufarbeitung einen eigenen Zugang brauchte. Er entwickelte eine Parallelhandlung von Vater und Sohn.

iron_and_coal.jpg“Iron & Coal” handelt von einem Vater, Mitte 20, der mit dem Umstand umzugehen lernen muss, dass er überlebt hat, und andere nicht. Seine Reise endet mit der Geburt seines Sohnes. Als Parallelgeschichte wird die Entwicklung seines Sohnes erzählt, dessen Reise mit dem Tod seines Vaters beginnt. Sein Leben ist von dessen Leiden, von Auschwitz überschattet. Seine Reise führt ihn in einen Zustand, in dem er sich von dem Schatten von Auschwitz endlich befreit fühlt.

Der Komponist beschreibt sein Projekt folgendermaßen:

My father, Dr. Gustav Schonfeld, was a mere 10 year-old boy in May of 1944 when the Nazis marched into his hometown of Munkacs, a villiage nestled near the Carpathian mountain range close to the Hungarian border. Shortly thereafter, he was forced, along with my grandparents, his baby brother, and several relatives, into the overcrowded cattle cars that brought countless numbers of Jews to Auschwitz for ‘extermination’. For an entire year my father endured what most of us can never truly imagine or comprehend.
In a preserved class photo featured in his memoirs (”Absence of Closure”), my father sits center amongst a group of 30 of his young classmates and their rabbinical teacher. My father is the only survivor from that photo.
My grandfather used to say that he could ‘break iron’ with his will.
My grandfather, Dr. Alexander Schonfeld, was a very successful and highly respected doctor in Munkacs before the war. With his wife, Helena, and his three sons Fredi, Gustav, and baby Solomon, Grandpa built a large home with a separate office suite for his thriving practice near the center of town at Munkacsy Mihaly Street 10. When the Nazis finally ‘cleansed’ Munkacs, it was my grandfather’s finely-honed skills as both steady and knowledgeable doctor and trusted leader that helped spare his and my father’s lives. He was also famous for saving others. As a child, I remember an older man approached my grandfather while our family was in Miami on vacation. He had tears in his eyes as he thanked my grandfather for saving his life.
When I first set out to create “Iron and Coal” I didn’t know precisely what I was doing or why. After all, the experiences my father shared in his memoir were his alone. What business did I have attempting to ‘musicalize’ his story? After much soul-searching, I decided the best course of action was to focus on the emotional toil and fallout of the Holocaust over the victim (my father) and his son (me). I gave myself artistic license to explore these emotional perspectives through my own eyes, freeing myself from the burden of specific linear storytelling. The result is an album covering three main areas: 1) A father as he attempts to create a life out of the ashes, 2) A son as he attempts to come to terms with his fractured life after his father has passed away, and 3) The ghosts of a distant, vanished world.

Erste musikalische Proben aus “Iron & Coal” bietet Jeremy Schonfeld auf seiner Website –> hier.

“Iron & Coal”-Team
- Martin Gellner
- Jeremy Schonfeld
- Werner Stranka


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