COMPOSER 1945–2013

Opus 82

From the Diaries of Adam Czerniakow (1986)

for Narrator and Orchestra

narr; 2+Picc.2+Eh.2+Bcl.2+Cbn/

Text by Adam Czerniakow

Duration: 22 min.

Dedication: to Lee and David Amos

Recording: Toccata TOCC0368

Premiere: 2010; JCC Orchestra of San Diego; D. Amos

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Adam Czerniakow was the chairman of the Judenrat, or Jewish local government in the Warsaw ghetto from 1939 (the beginning of the German occupation and administration of the ghetto) until 1942 when he took his own life during the time of mass deportation of the population to death camps in the east. In this capacity, Czerniakow kept a secret diary which recounts considerable detail about the ghetto and its history, and also reveals the growing awareness and torment in Czerniakow himself as the Nazis moved deviously, carefully, and inexorably towards including the Jews of Poland in the “final solution.”

The unique artistic opportunity conveyed by the Diaries is its combination of two otherwise irreconcilable perspectives—the viewpoint of a mass of victims, which portrays the magnitude of the events, and the that of a single tragic individual, which better portrays the human pathos of those evens. Czerniakow was, after all, both a very tortured victim in his own right, and in a very real sense, a conduit—sometimes in spite of himself—between the oppressors and the thousands of Jewish victims in occupied Poland.

The work is 22 minutes long and is scored for full orchestra and one narrator, reading Czerniakow’s words. These diary entries are spoken only; there is no singing in the entire piece. The music is in one continuous movement, befitting something of an extended stream of consciousness, and the actual style migrates from symphonic, to coloristic, to cantorial, according to the spirit of the historical events.

The English translation of Czerniakow’s material was made by Raul Hilberg and Stanislaw Staron, collaboration with Josef Kermisz of Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. The composer has applied for and received permission from all of these for the use of the material. Permission of the publisher, Stein and Day, was informally given although not applicable, as the translator has retained the right to give or refuse it. (Notes by Arnold Rosner)