Skip to main content

Music as resistance against the ‘Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia’

Förderverein musica reanimata, Berlin (DE)

After Wehrmacht troops marched into the Czech Republic in March 1939, Adolf Hitler proclaimed the “Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia”. Ostensibly, this placed these territories under the protection of the German Reich. In reality, it was a disenfranchisement of the local population, which particularly affected people of Jewish origin. Jewish musicians were banned from working until they were even prohibited from owning musical instruments. The sensational assassination attempt on Reinhard Heydrich bore witness to the resistance of the population. Musicians also put up resistance, but in hidden ways that have received little attention to date. The musica reanimata project Musical Resistance to the 'Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia’ presents three composers who offered artistic resistance in concerts and talks.

Rudolf Karel, born in Pilsen in 1880, one of the last of Dvořák's students, became professor of composition at the Prague Conservatory after an adventurous fate in Russia during the First World War. He was also successful as an opera composer. Because of his active resistance to the German occupation, Karel was imprisoned in 1943, where he continued to compose under the most difficult conditions. He died in February 1945 in the Small Fortress of Theresienstadt. Born in East Bohemia in 1922, Petr Eben was no longer allowed to attend school from 1944 because of his Jewish father and grandfather. He was conscripted into forced labor and his grandmother was deported to the Theresienstadt ghetto. In spring 1945, he was sent to Buchenwald concentration camp with his father and brother. But even after the war, Eben continued to be subjected to reprisals because of his political views. Miloslav Kabeláč, born in Prague in 1908, studied music theory and composition with Alois Hába and Erwin Schulhoff. Because of his marriage to a Jewish musician, he was banned from working and performing during the German occupation. Although he was also suppressed under Stalinist cultural policy, today he is considered one of the most important Czech composers of the 20th century. He died in Prague in 1979.

After kicking off the series with an organ concert, the three composers will be portrayed in three discussion concerts. The focus will be on works that deal with the situation under German occupation. The concert project Musical Resistance to the 'Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia’ is made possible by the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation.

Further information:


June 14, 2024
Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, Berlin

June 15 and 16, 2024
Wilhelm von Humboldt Hall, Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin