Music by WWII prisoners collected in special archive
A special repository of music composed by those who lived and died in the concentration camps and prisons of the Second World War is set to open in Rome in 2007.
Italian musician and researcher Francesco Lotoro has spent more than 15 years locating and archiving music written on loose pages, diaries and even toilet paper to create a unique library set to open its doors in September at Rome's Third University.
''We are trying to right a great wrong: these musicians were hoping for a musical life for themselves, and they would have had it if their destiny had been different,'' says Lotoro.
Lotoro has crisscrossed the globe to collect an archive that will include 4,000 papers, 13,000 microfiches as well as music sheets, letters, drawings and photos.
''I don't know of any institution gathering only musical documentation,'' said Bert Werb of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. ''It's an important project that will become an important resource for musicians globally.''
The 42-year-old Lotoro is also arranging and recording many of the pieces to produce a 32-CD collection. Musicians and singers who live around his hometown of Barletta in southern Italy have volunteered their time to work with him.
The pianist first examined music written during the Holocaust while on a trip to Prague in 1991.He discovered hundreds of manuscripts of music.
Major work by Czech composer unearthed
He also found a key work from Rudolf Karel, a Czech composer arrested by the Nazis for being part of the resistance movement. Karel, who was locked up in a military prison, used toilet paper to compose many pieces including a five-act opera.
Lotoro uncovered one of Karel's last sheets of music, entitled Prisoners' March, dated just four days before his death in March 1945.
Many of his finds originate from Theresienstadt, Terezin in Czech, which was used as a transit camp by the Nazis for Jewish leaders and artists deported from all over Europe.It was a "show camp" in which prisoners were allowed to stage operas, concerts and shows with several orchestras.
Still, 33,000 people died there and about 90,000 were eventually sent to death camps.
Other pieces of music include works by Gypsies, chorus songs written by Dutch women interned by the Japanese in Indonesia, and one piece from a U.S. colonel who wrote songs while imprisoned by the Japanese in the Pacific.
Lotoro says he is still searching for music composed by German officers while in Soviet camps.
''Music is a universal language, so the music written by the German officer and by the Jewish prisoner have the same historical value,'' said Lotoro, who converted to Judaism in 2002.
With files from the Associated Press