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Thesis 1

Thesis Title: The Cathartic Role of Music in the Theresienstadt Ghetto, 1941-1945
Degree Type: MA
Degree Specialism: Musicology
Supervisor(s): Dr Lorraine Byrne Bodley
Thesis Status: Accepted
Date Submitted / Accepted: August 2012
Institution Submitting / Submitted To: NUI, Maynooth
No. of Volumes (no. of pages): 1 (93pp.)
Approx. Word Count: c.18,000
Thesis Location / Link: NUIM Library
Persons / Composers: Viktor Ullmann & Hans Krása
Genres / Musical Instruments: Piano, opera & cabaret
Related Places: Theresienstadt ghetto
Time Frame: 1941-1945
Abstract: The years 1939-1945 is universally recognized as a period of darkness, extreme turmoil and vast suffering, particularly for European Jews. The rise of Hitler and the National Socialist Party from 1933 bore witness to the development of numerous ghettos and extermination camps. The Theresienstadt ghetto (approximately 60km north of Prague) possessed a unique function, however, and it became a hub of many prominent cultural personalities, as well as those from political and scientific life. The Nazis used this internment of prominent figures to their advantage, enlisting their talents to paint Theresienstadt to the world as a town that was, ostensibly, an ideal “paradise” for a Jewish person. Consequently the arts at Theresienstadt were permitted to flourish, creating a vibrant cultural life. Divergent from its vital role in propaganda, cultural life possessed many benefiting factors for its Jewish inhabitants.

Internees used the arts, and music, in particular, as a means of survival, expression and resistance to such oppression. This thesis addresses the fundamental question as to how viable music was as an avenue of escape from such oppression. When faced with one’s certain mortality, could music have provided a haven? This thesis explores the therapeutic and cathartic effects of music as evidenced in the music and surviving documents of composers Viktor Ullmann (1898-1944) and Hans Krása (1899-1944). The fifth movement from Ullmann’s Piano Sonata No. 7 aids in the quest to find such insight. Deeply rooted on a theme of suffering, the movement includes thematic reference to the biblical character of suffering, Rachel; representative of the war in which Ullmann was currently submerged. Hans Krása’s children’s opera Brundibar provides hope and spiritual resistance with a triumphant victory of those suffering over their tyrant. This thesis also unveils the paradoxical flowering of German Cabaret in the concentration camp.

Thesis 2

Thesis Title: The Search for Meaning & Values: Exploring Human Response to Oppression through Music
Degree Type: Other
Degree Specialism: Musicology
Supervisor(s): Louise O'Sullivan IBVM
Thesis Status: Accepted
Date Submitted / Accepted: November 2010
Institution Submitting / Submitted To: Mater Dei Institute of Education, DCU
No. of Volumes (no. of pages): 1 (44pp.)
Approx. Word Count: c.11,000
Thesis Location / Link: Mater Dei Institute of Education
Persons / Composers: Viktor Ullmann, Pavel Haas & Hans Krása
Related Places: Theresienstadt ghetto
Time Frame: 1941-1945
Abstract: This research aims to identify the history of music therapy as a discipline and its implementations for those in an oppressive situation. The thesis identifies the use of music in a negative and positive manner exploring the use of music for both oppressor and those oppressed during the years of World War II. This research traces the inclusion of music into everyday life by Nationalist Socialist Party as a means of promoting German Nationalism & music as a vehicle of propaganda. This research traces the establishment of the Theresienstadt ghetto outside of Prague. This thesis gives a brief overview of musical activities in the camp, & identifies the works of composers Viktor Ullmann, Hans Krása & Pavel Haas. This thesis concludes by briefly exploring the possible therapeutic function that music possessed in the camp during the years 1941-1945.

Contact Details

Current Institution Affiliation: NUI Maynooth
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