The world would come to know Leo Szpilman (later Spellman) as a renowned musician and Holocaust survivor. But little did anyone know, Leo’s all-too-common story was told in an uncommon fashion– through his three-part musical composition.
His talent became his lifeline during the Holocaust. After the German occupation of Poland, Leo was placed in the Ostrowiec ghetto, where he established an orchestra.
In the grueling circumstances of ghetto life, Leo’s musical craft captured the attention of an SS guard who agreed to lighten his workload in exchange for accordion lessons. When the guard received word of Jewish deportations from the ghetto, their relationship quickly inspired the guard to help Leo and his wife escape to a nearby forest.
It wasn’t until the end of the war that the couple emerged from hiding and Leo found peace again in his music. During his time at the Furstenfeldbruck displaced persons camp, he composed his Rhapsody 1939-1945, an ode to victims of the Holocaust. After debuting the piece in 1947, Leo stowed the score in a suitcase, leaving the memories of the Holocaust on paper, not to be heard again until the 2000s.
Źródło: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum