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Jul 2004 Journal

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Forgotten Music

While in Vienna earlier this year I met Dr Primavera Gruber, a lady of great personality and drive. Primavera Gruber is the director of the Orpheus Trust, an organisation she founded in May 1996 with the aim of restoring the memory of Austrian composers, conductors, musicians and musicologists who were persecuted by the Nazis. 'Austrian' includes the regions which were formerly part of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, musically a closely connected cultural community.

To date, the Orpheus Trust has established a data bank with biographical and artistic information on over 4,550 musically creative persons and more than 10,000 works of composers. The records of some 200 oral interviews of contemporaries detailing the biographies of persecuted musicians are kept in the Trust's archives. Quoting a lot of figures does not normally make for an interesting article, but these figures are meaningful: they reflect the enormous dimensions of the Jewish contribution to musical life in Austria as well as the dedication of Primavera Gruber and her team in the face of the usual difficulties of raising funds for their work. She has also joined a special research project by Salzburg University: 'Persecuted Music'.

Since its foundation concert at the Vienna Konzerthaus, the Orpheus Trust has produced or participated in the production of concerts, lectures and talks, workshops and symposia as well as master classes. By means of regular contact and exchange of information in science, concert enterprise, pedagogy and the media, the Orpheus Trust unceasingly suggests programmes, providing material for artists and promoters. The aim is always the rediscovery and dissemination of the forgotten music.

The Orpheus Trust is a non-profit-making organisation supervised by a board of trustees. Its petition for support is signed by an impressive list of internationally known names containing many ex-refugees in the music world as well as prominent scientists and artists (see website). It receives grants from a small number of bodies. Another source of income are the membership fees of members - over 500 at present - and of associate memberships.

This is an organisation and a task which is surely well worth assisting. I do not refer to financial assistance (not that that would be refused, I should think), but to assistance in providing information you may have which is wanted by the Trust: information about forgotten music, persecuted musicians and persons closely involved with music so that through the work of Primavera Gruber and the Orpheus Trust they can be rehabilitated to their rightful place in the musical history of Austria.

If you have any information, or wish to know more about the Trust, here is the necessary information: Orpheus Trust, Sigmundsgasse 11/3. A-1070 Vienna, Austria; tel/fax 00 43 1 5268092; email office@orpheustrust.at; website www.orpheustrust.at.
Eric Sanders

previous article:Central Office for Holocaust Claims