Dying at Auschwitz – an excerpt from Pavel’s Violin

An excerpt from “Pavel’s Violin,” chapter thirty, “Naked in the Night.”

(C) 2017 Walter William Melnyk, All Rights Reserved.  Do not duplicate.
Use the link to the right to purchase “Pavel’s Violin” on Amazon.

Auschwitz BarracksMira looked to her left, through the chain link fence and barbed wire, across the train tracks and the infamous arrival ramp, to the barracks of the Women’s Camp. Despite the hour, one building still had a light burning in one window. Mira had once been told the building was the Music Block, the barracks of the Auschwitz Women’s Orchestra. She had seen or heard them occasionally, from a distance, over the past six months. Often playing as work details left in the morning, or returned in the afternoon. Sometimes they gave concerts for the Nazi SS officers. Occasionally she had seen them playing on the arrival ramp, as Jews exited a new transport and were selected for life or death by the feared Doctor Mengele. She fixed her eyes upon the one lit window, the one that often remained lit when all else had gone dark. She had been told the room belonged to the conductor of the orchestra, the world famous violinist Alma Rosé. How Mira had wished she could talk with Alma! How she had wished she could play her own Violin beside her in the orchestra. But it could not be. The Women’s camp was in a different world.

“Still, I have been able to play for the families,” Mira thought. “Still, I have been able to teach Beáta, who is getting quite good.”

There was a momentary lull in the rumbling of the trucks, and Mira could hear the faint sounds of a violin coming from that lighted window in the Music Block. She strained to hear the tune. Chopin’s Etude in E, Tristesse. It was rumored to be Alma’s favorite piece, and she often played it late at night. Sometimes it could be heard drifting across the silent camp, a song of lost love, of hopeless resignation.

A song lives in me,
a lovely song,
it stirs up memories
within my heart.
My heart was still.
Now that tender song cries out again,
calls me, everywhere!

Life was far off,
dreams gone away,
My Heart! how calm
you were so long ago,
so long ago.

Now it all wells up again,
all my joy, my heart’s desire,
deepest yearning, sleepless anguish
lives!

I just want peace,
peace within my heart,
never to recall
that song.

Mira remembered the words, as the music drifted across the horrible selection ramp. She would never see Joseph again. Had she ever wished to forget the pain by forgetting him? She would not have thought so. Who was it Alma had loved so dearly, that she so longed to forget? Longed to forget, as the only way to find peace?

“Well,” Mira thought, “I will find peace soon enough tonight.” She hugged Beáta and Mirek closer. They had been so strangely quiet. “I hope it will come quickly, when it comes.”

An Excerpt from “Pavel’s Violin”

From Chapter 7 – A Farewell in Salzburg:

     Cervěnka played a G scale, slowly, savoring the tones. Across the room, the Kapellmeister looked up from his own work in speechless amazement, while his assistant played several measures of Biber’s new Sonata violin solo representativa. Eleven measures, perhaps, up to the 6/4 change. The two men were silent. It seemed as though the notes continued to dance around them, reluctant to fade into time or space. So moved was he by the music, Biber spoke softly the only words he could think of.
“I didn’t know you knew that piece,” he said.
“You left it lying about, and I had a look. That’s the only bit I’ve memorized.”
“You play well.”
“Thank you, Kapellmeister. It is a fine piece.” Again they fell into silence, still hearing the voice of the Violin in their thoughts. Finally, Biber spoke.
“May I . . . May I try it?”

(C) 2017 Walter William Melnyk
All Rights Reserved

Heinrich Ignatz Franz von Biber,  Kapellmeister to the Prince Bishop of Olomouc
Biber

Another 5 Star Review

“Pavel’s Violin has received another 5 Star Review on Amazon – This from a local Reader:

stars-5-0._CB192240867_5 stars Fantastic Must Read

Pavels_Violin_Cover_for_KindleD.J.C. June 21, 2017
Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

This book has touched my deepest soul and surprisingly that of my 11 year old Goddaughter who is studying the Subject matter. We have read the book simultaneously with my guidance along the way. We have both laughed, cried and then actually mourned the book characters. A must read for everyone remotely interested in the plight of our Jewish brothers and sisters during the war. As my signed copy reads, “may we never forget.”

If It’s Baroque . . .

The Violin of “Pavel’s Violin” was made by Jakob Stainer in Absam, near Innsbruck, in 1670.  In the midst of the Baroque Period, it used gut strings, and had neither chin nor shoulder rest.  The bow was shorter, lighter, and curved in the opposite direction from today’s bows.  The Stainer model I play today – which was Pavel’s – is the inspiration for “Pavel’s Violin.”  It was likely made in Bavaria in the mid-1800s.  My own violin study is now dedicated to Baroque music.

Baroque Meme