BBC Program on the 60th Anniversary of Auschwitz Liberation Wins International Emmy. DVD published.


The 33rd annual International Emmy Awards ceremony, the TV equivalent of the Oscars, was held under the auspices of the International Academy for Television Arts and Sciences in New York on November 21.

Winners were chosen from among 37 nominees in 9 categories. The International Emmy for art programs went to Holocaust: A Music Memorial Film from Auschwitz, shot at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum.

The program marked the 60th anniversary, on January 27, 2005, of the liberation of Auschwitz. In homage to the millions of victims of Nazi terror, the Museum agreed for the first time to the filming at the Auschwitz site of performances by internationally renowned musicians.

The music, all connected to one degree or another with the Holocaust or the World War II period, was accompanied by the reminiscences of former prisoners, including some who played in the camp orchestra. As Primo Levi noted, music was “an audible expression of the madness of the camp” for the prisoners who listened to it. For the members of the camp orchestra who survived, music was their salvation.

Their voices bear witness to the way the depraved Nazi regime misused music, but also to music’s universal role as consolation. The fascinating blending of music and words takes the viewer on a fascinating voyage that is a reflection on those horrendous times and their significance in the 21st century.

The film features music by W.A. Mozart, J.S. Bach, Chopin, Schubert, Górecki, Victor Ullmann, Osvaldo Golijov, Steve Reich, and Olivier Messiaen.

Performers included such international standouts as Emanuel Ax, Isabel Bayrakdarian, Iva Bittová, Deidre Cooper, Tove Dahlberg, Sinfonietta Cracovia/Camerata Silesia conducted by John Axelrod, Gerald Finley, Iwona Hossa, Ian Humphries, David Krakauer, Edgaras Montvidas, Martin Roscoe, The Smith Quartet, Michael Ward-Bergeman, and Maxim Vengerov.

The 90-minute documentary was produced by the BBC, with the collaboration of Polish television, ZDF, and the CBC. The Museum is in the final stages of preparations for the release of a DVD of the program.

The Emmy Awards

The Emmys are the top TV prizes, awarded for American and non-American productions. Shirley Dinsdale won the first Emmy in Hollywood on January 25, 1949.

“Emmy” is a feminized form of “immy,” the jargon term for the image orthicon tubes used in the first TV cameras.

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