My name is Roger Peltzman. I'm a pianist and teacher in New York City. During the last ten years I have performed six solo concerts at Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall and also chamber music at The Third Street Music School.
In 1933, my grandparents, my mother, Beatrice, and my Uncle Norbert fled Hitler's Berlin for Brussels, Belgium. In 1936 Norbert enrolled at the prestigious Brussels Conservatory of Music, where he was recognized as a singular talent who held the promise of becoming one of the world's greatest pianists. Then, in 1940, the Germans invaded Belgium. My uncle continued at the conservatory until 1942, when the life-threatening situation in Brussels finally forced the Stern family into hiding. At that point Norbert had no choice but to abandon his studies. Then on a winter's night in 1944, Nazis, informed of the Stern's whereabouts, broke down the door of the attic in which they were hiding and seized the family. Norbert and his parents were taken, while my mother, Beatrice, escaped out of her bedroom window to the freezing roof outside. The Sterns, without Beatrice, began the journey to Auschwitz where they ultimately perished.
In 2010 my family received a phone call from a certain Mrs. Hennessy of Brussels. She told us that during the war years she was friends with my mother and Uncle Norbert. She had been a fellow piano student of Norbert's at the Conservatory. While my family were hiding for their lives, Mrs. Hennessy, at great risk, allowed my uncle to practice on her family's Steinway. In the end, while nothing could be done for the Stern family who had been taken away, Mrs. Hennessy's father delivered my mother to the underground. She miraculously survived the war.
In the Summer of 2010, I visited Mrs. Hennessy and played on the very piano Norbert had practiced on. It was a life altering experience which drew me even deeper into a relationship with the uncle I never knew.
This is the video I made to raise funds for my Kickstarter project.
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