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Leo Spellman interview

Recorded Sound | Digitized | RG Number: RG-91.2161

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    Leo Spellman interview


    Interview with Leo Spellman in Toronto on December 7, 2003 and January 24-25. Two cassette tapes. Spellman, a survivor of Ostrowiec Ghetto, is a musician and composer.
    Recorded:  2003
    Subject: 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.
    Audiocassette; magnetic
    Audiocassette; magnetic

    Physical Details

    Music. Oral histories.

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    You do not require further permission from the Museum to access this archival media.
    Copyright Undetermined
    Conditions on Use
    Owner of copyright, if any, is undetermined. It is possible this is an orphan work. It is the responsibility of anyone interested in reproducing, broadcasting, or publishing content to determine copyright holder and secure permission, or perform a diligent Fair Use analysis.

    Administrative Notes

    Recorded Sound Provenance
    Since 1992, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum's music historian has collected historic sound recordings, published materials, interviews, and music related to the Holocaust and World War II.
    Recorded Sound Source
    Bret Werb
    Record last modified:
    2024-02-21 07:29:23
    This page:

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