On 10th of May 1933, exactly 80 years ago, Nazi student organizations burned ten-thousands of "un-German" books on the Opera place in Berlin. The same happened in many other german cities.
They tried to extinguish and eradicate this part of German culture.
Among the hundreds of poets and writers, whose books were banned and burned, were Bertold Brecht, Albert Einstein, Heinrich Heine, Franz Kafka, Erich Kästner, Heinrich and Klaus Mann, Stefan Zweig and many others. They were expatriated or even put into concentration camps (e.g. Carl von Ossietzky).
Heinrich Heine, one of the most famous german poets, wrote prohpetically already 1821 (but referring to a burning of the Koran!):
"This is a prelude only, where they burn books, they will in the end also burn people."
It is difficult to catch such a frightening event like the burning of books into music.
The piece starts with the melody "A-B-C" in the right hand, where "A-B-C" stands for the letters on the books.
Then follow in the middle part many "B-B"-chords, which stand for the B-urning of the B-ooks.
In the end the piece solves from G-minor into G-major tonality to illustrate, that the book burning was not successful, the books still exist today and survived, we can still read all of them.
The score of this piece you can find here:
Burning of books happened during all times, unfortunately they still happen today.
That´s why it´s the artist´s duty to remind and remember, what can happen after books are burning...
I live in Berlin and work very closely to the Opera place (now: Bebel place), so I pass the location, where the "Bücherverbrennung" took place, every day.
Artist Micha Ullmann from Israel created a thoughtful and touching memorial at this place: It shows an empty library...
Pianist Hal Freedman (soundcloud.com/classical-soul-pianist) from Philadelphia / USA made an impressive interpretation of this difficult piece, performed on a Steinway.
On our YouTube Channels you can also watch this short video that Hal created with some pictures of the burning books while the music is playing.
Hal Freedman has been a solo recitalist at colleges, universities and various venues including the Academy of Music in Philadelphia. He is now a well-known piano teacher and respected recording artist.
I can truly recommend that you also have a look at his other fantastic recordings and Albums, that contain many pieces from the romantic era.
Hal Freedman´s homepage: halfreedmanpianist.com/
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