- The Leo Spellman photograph collection consists of four photographs including a photograph of Waldemar Szpilman and Leo Szpilman playing the violin and piano in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, circa 1950-1955; a photograph of Waldemar Szpilman, Jakob Gimpel, and Moyshe Szpilman, circa 1926; a portrait of Reuven Szpilman, Ostrowiec, Poland, 1935; and a group photograph of members of the Cultural Committee of the Fuerstenfeldbruck DP camp, Fuerstenfeldbruck, Germany, circa 1945-1950. Pictured in the group photograph are musicians, including (seated left to right) unidentified, Jonas Turkow, Diana Blumenfeld, and David Epstein, (standing left to right) Leo Spellman, the secretary, the president of the group, Marita Turkow-Blumenfeld, Lustig, and Rosenberg.
circa 1926-circa 1955
- Credit Line
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Leo Spellman
- Collection Creator
- Leo Spellman
Leo Spellman (born Lazar Szpilman) received his first music lessons from his father Rivn, a well-known violinist and orchestra leader. He began his professional life at age nine, working after school as a pianist in a local movie house. Adept in both classical and popular repertoire, the young Szpilman played with municipal orchestras and traveled with dance bands to tourist resorts in southern Poland. When German armies occupied Poland, Szpilman returned to Ostrowiec, where he helped establish the ghetto orchestra. His musical gifts drew the attention of a guard, who lightened Szpilman's workload in exchange for accordion lessons. The guard later helped him and his wife Mary escape to the nearby forests. At the end of the war, the couple emerged from hiding and eventually arrived at the displaced persons camp at Furstenfeldbruck, near Munich. While employed as a pianist at the Officers' Club at Furstenfeldbruck, Szpilman composed his Rhapsody 1939-1945, which premiered at the camp in 1947 and was given a second performance at the survivors' conference in Washington, D.C. in January 2000. In 1948, Szpilman immigrated to Canada and has since worked steadily in Toronto as a composer, concert pianist, cantorial accompanist, and music director of the Toronto Jewish Theater.