Even in the most despondent situations, the arts find a way to flourish. This research document examines the vocal music that Viktor Ullmann composed in the concentration camp-ghetto of Theresienstadt in German-occupied Czechoslovakia, and the notable aspects of his compositional writing style. Although his opera Der Kaiser von Atlantis has been performed globally, the remainder of his oeuvre has rarely been recorded or performed. Singers often shy away from twentieth-century composers such as Ullmann, with claims that the music is not lyrical or relatable. Perhaps the irregularity of the meter, rhythms, or intervals seem too daunting for many to consider attempting a performance. With Confined, But Not Silenced: Vocal Music of Viktor Ullmann from the Theresienstadt Ghetto, I hope to open the door to music that is both accessible and uniquely beautiful. Not intended as a performance guide, this document aims instead at unearthing the appeal of music that is often perceived as unusual and difficult to perform through analysis that emphasizes relatable aspects of the compositions. By exposing colleagues to relatable music by a composer such as Ullmann, that has not normally been integrated in the canon, the boundaries of standard vocal repertoire can be expanded to include unconventional contemporary compositions. In addition to highlighting specific musical examples, Confined, But Not Silenced focuses on music’s positive effects for World War II prisoners in Theresienstadt.
- Confined, but not silenced: vocal music of Viktor Ullmann from the Theresienstadt Ghetto