November 6, 2020
In honour of Remembrance Day and the 75th Anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands, Canadian composer Jaap Nico Hamburger presents two symphonies recorded in November 2019. While confronting serious and challenging themes, these works are imbued with hope and optimism.
Chamber Symphony No. 1 “Remember to Forget”
Ensemble Caprice under the direction of Matthias Maute
Produced by: Martha de Francisco
Recorded in studio: Église St-Augustin, Mirabel, QC (17/11/2019 – 18/11/2019)
“Remember to Forget” is a phrase from Tenach, The Old Testament. The sentence alludes to the notion that doubt (“I should have…I could have…”), rather than being critical (“Where can I improve?”), is inherently self-destructive. We are not necessarily in control of the outcome of events, but that should not deter us from working hard and striving for the best, all toward the positives in life. “Remember to Forget” is a tone poem, using the colours and structures of sound to advance that story, inspired by the biography of György Ligeti (1923-2006).
This symphony in two movements is an apostrophe to one of the great musical minds of the age. Ligeti’s own influences stretched back to the 15th century and the richness of polyphony, from folk inspirations and a drenched chromaticism through to jazz and polyrhythm of every description. His work is best known through the soundtrack for Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 – A Space Odyssey. This work is a metaphor of a train journey, moving from youth to catastrophe, and through survival to rebuilding, forgiveness, and ultimately to the lessons of the biblical Joseph: to live, work, build, create, and love to the best of your abilities, under all circumstances, every day.
Chamber Symphony No. 2 “Children’s War Diaries”
l’Orchestre Métropolitain de Montréal under the direction of Vincent de Kort
Produced by: Misha Aster
Recorded live at the Violins of Hope concert: Maison symphonique de Montréal (02/11/2019)
“Children’s War Diaries” Five diaries of teenagers who were murdered during the Second World War inspired this piece. These children did not survive, but their diaries did. Twenty years after reading these diaries, composer Jaap Hamburger’s 89-year-old mother, Jannie Moffie-Bolle, published her autobiography “Een hemel zonder vogels” (“A sky without birds”). She too was a teenager at the outbreak of the Nazi war in Europe.
The book, among other things, describes her experiences in multiple Nazi death camps, including Auschwitz-Birkenau. In 2010, Jaap travelled with her to Israel on the occasion of the presentation of her book at Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Memorial Center in Jerusalem.
The architecture of the Children’s Memorial at Yad Vashem is uniquely sobering. It memorializes 1.5 million murdered children, approximately 95% of all Jewish children ages 0-18 years old in occupied Europe. This staggering number is what led Raphael Lemkin to introduce the term “genocide” in his 1944 landmark publication, Axis Rule in Occupied Europe. When Jaap – overwhelmed by the starkness of the Children’s Memorial – had left the building and stepped into the blazing Jerusalem sunlight, the contours of a new symphonic work came to mind, virtually complete. The composer went home and wrote it down. “Children’s War Diaries” is a symphony for chamber orchestra in five short movements.
November 6, 2020