Listening Contrapuntally to Witness Testimonies of Terezín

February 5, 2021 - 4:00pm

Over the past forty years narratives about musical Terezín—the “model camp” designed by the Nazis to obscure the reality of their genocidal motives to international observers—have focused heavily on music’s redemptive and beneficial role as described by witnesses in postwar testimonial records. Borrowing from the ideas of postcolonial scholar Edward Said, musicologist Amy Lynn Wlodarski proposes the need for a more contrapuntal form of listening that would allow us to understand better how the power of past historiographies limits our contemporary listening and has created conditions for the possible silencing of alternative memories. Referencing archival materials related to the documentary Goethe and Ghetto (1996), Wlodarski shares how her own contrapuntal listening revealed opportunities for scholarly self-reflection, listening beyond the dominant discourse of the film, and analytical critique of the film’s content.

An award-winning scholar and teacher, Prof. Wlodarski's research explores the complex expressive relationships between Jewish music, trauma, memory, and the tragedies of World War II and the Holocaust. Her two monographs--Musical Witness and Holocaust Representation (2015) and George Rochberg, American Composer (2019)--have both received accolades from leading musicological societies, and she is currently working on a book detailing the international reception of Viktor Ullmann's "Der Kaiser von Atlantis," a chamber opera written in Ghetto Terezín in 1944. In addition to written scholarship, Prof. Wlodarski regularly presents programs for major musical institutions, including the Los Angeles Opera, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, and the Violins of Hope Exhibition, and her work has been supported by the Fulbright Commission, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and Harvard University. As an educator, she specializes in courses that explore the aesthetics, ethics, and politics of creative practices in music ranging from 1750 to the present and conducts the Dickinson College Choir.

Presented by the Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies, the School of Music, & the Center for Jewish Studies