A Composer with a Conscience

The Fellowship  |  January 24, 2018

Gottfried von Einem

Life: January 24, 1918 – July 12, 1996

Why you should know him: A famous Austrian composer, Einem not only opposed the evil Nazis regime, but saved a young Jewish musician from death at their hands.

As a young man, Gottfried von Einem moved from his home in Austria to Berlin in 1937, in order to study music under the famed composer Paul Hindemith. As the Nazis were consolidating their power, Hindemith resigned from his state-appointed post in protest of their evil regime.

Einem continued his studies – studies which would lead to his own renown as a classical composer – and wrote his first work, a ballet titled Prinzessin Turandot, in 1941. While Einem would lead a long career, writing many other important works (including the one seen in the above clip), his first work would save a life.

As World War II raged and the Nazis rounded up and murdered Jews, Einem met a young Jewish musician named Konrad Latte. Einem hired Latte as a rehearsal assistant for Prinzessin Turandot, and found the young man other jobs once that production was finished. Einem also obtained a Riech Music ID (which allowed Latte to perform in public) and a ration card, allowed Latte to use his own identification, and introduced the young Jewish man to others who could help him survive underground. All of these activities endangered Einem, but saved the life of another, thus earning the composer recognition by Yad Vashem as Righteous Among the Nations in 2002.

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