CMHMD were proud to host sir michael morpurgo for a theatrical adaptation of his work ‘the mozart question’
To mark Holocaust Memorial Day, we were honoured to welcome Sir Michael Morpurgo to Chichester on Friday 14th January 2022.
This unique performance of the story, narrated by Michael Morpurgo and Alison Reid and directed by Simon Reade, was beautifully enhanced and embellished with extracts from music by Mozart, Bach and Vivaldi. Featuring Daniel Pioro on violin, and string quartet The Storyteller’s Ensemble.
We welcomed a full house to the performance and the audience were enraptured by the power of the story and the accompanying music.
Musical extracts included:
• Vivaldi The Four Seasons – Summer and Winter
• Bach Violin Sonata No.1 in G Minor (adagio)
• Mozart – Eine Kleine Nachtmusik
• Mozart Violin Concerto No.4 in D Major
The Mozart Question tells the story of Paolo Levi, a world-famous performer who developed his passion for music as a young child with the help of his teacher, Benjamin.
Alongside this story, is that of his parents who were both musicians too – Jewish prisoners surviving, playing music in a concentration camp during the Second World War. Treated with utmost sensitivity for a family audience, The Mozart Question is a story of friendship and family, truth and secrets – interwoven by the power of culture and music.
Michael Morpurgo gave some insight into his story:
“It is difficult for us to imagine how dreadful was the suffering that went on in the Nazi concentration camps during the Second World War. The enormity of the crime that the Nazis committed is just too overwhelming for us to comprehend. In their attempt to wipe out an entire race they caused the death of six million people, most of them Jews. It is when you hear the stories of the individuals who lived through it – Anne Frank, Primo Levi – that you can begin to understand the horror just a little better, and to understand the evil that caused it.
For me, the most haunting image does not come from literature or film, but from music. I learned some time ago that in many of the camps the Nazis selected Jewish prisoners and forced them to play in orchestras; for the musicians it was simply a way to survive. In order to calm the new arrivals at the camps they were made to serenade them as they were lined up and marched off, many to the gas chambers. Often they played Mozart.
I wondered how it must have been for a musician who played in such hellish circumstances, who adored Mozart as I do – what thoughts came when playing Mozart later in life. This was the genesis of my story, this and the sight of a small boy in a square by the Accademia Bridge in Venice, sitting one night, in his pyjamas on his tricycle, listening to a busker. He sat totally enthralled by the music that seemed to him, and to me, to be heavenly.”