Anna Segal and her oratorio "Todesfuge" after Paul Celan

Well known Israeli contemporary composer Anna Segal has extensive musical experience. She is working with different musical collectives and has been lucky to collaborate with the Berliner Symphonic Orchestra in Berlin and the great Israeli conductor Lior Shambadal. She composes music for orchestra, choir, quintet, suites, pieces for solo instruments, film scores as well as music for children.
One of her latest piece has been focussed around the holocaust. She wanted to create something important that, in artistic form, will tell the world more about this tragedy. By chance a friend drew her attention to the poetry of Paul Celan. And the jigsaw puzzle was completed.

The poem is in narrative form, and is from the perspective of the persecuted Jewish people. The poem begins with a very bright image – “black milk…” The white milk in Celan´s poetry turns black, symbolic of the world turning over to pain and horror.
The obsessive repetition of those lines being the only thing left when all capacity to think is lost in the darkness.

Celan’s poem does not have a happy end, and it cannot be in that situation, so Anna Segal decided to take a line from another well-known Celan’s poem “Tenebrae” for the end of this composition. In the final lines, the Jewish people ascend to “heaven”, they are next to the Lord. It seems to her that this is symbolic end, so the last passage sounds in major, as a symbol of hope and forgiveness.

When this musical piece was finished, Anna Segal played it to her grandmother Frida, who survived the Holocaust. She could not listen to the end, tears welling in her eyes. The Israeli composer will dedicate the premiere of “Todesfuge” at the festival to her grandmother. Anna Segal´s personal interpretation of Paul Celan´s poem is taking the listener on a journey into the memory of the Jewish people. The music is giving the poetry of Celan colour and maybe a new life.

Israeli conductor Mark Wolloch, has been to the Todesfuge in version for piano and Baritone in Jerusalem and he was inspired by this music immediately.  At the festival Mark Wolloch will conduct the premiere. Mark as well as Paul Celan were born in Chernovitz. What a coincidence and how symbolic.

Israeli composer Anna Segal. Ohoto by Nathan Yakobovitch

Photo by Alex Vanzetti and Nathan Yakobovitch