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A Missing But Remembered Uncle

A Missing But Remembered Uncle

In 1942, 18-year-old Bruno Gawlick of East Prussia marched off within the Wehrmacht’s assault on Stalingrad, the most important and bloodiest battle in historical past. He was by no means heard from once more besides in a pair of posthumous letters.

Now his nephew Ralf, a 49-year-old composer who teaches at Boston School and has his DMA from NEC, has written a 52-minute tribute to his “by no means recognized however by no means forgotten” younger uncle. Conceived from the final two letters the younger soldier wrote, the electroacoustic composition is titled Herzliche Grüße Bruno ~ Briefe aus Stalingrad (Greatest regards, Bruno ~ Letters from Stalingrad). Scored for baritone, two pianos, and archival sound montage, it’ll première March 30th within the First Baptist Church in Newton.

Listeners will transfer via time and area by way of a soundscape that integrates archival recordings with stay spoken phrase, two piano elements, and the prophecy of sung voice. The work combines profound reflection with an uncommon intimacy as a fiercely anti-war memorial. The composition and its première have been sponsored via an initiative between the US and Germany referred to as Wunderbar Collectively.

We needed to listen to extra.

What’s the context for the weird title?

RG: My younger uncle, who had turned 19 earlier than being listed as lacking in motion in late December 1942, had written too letters. One, handwritten, is dated December 28, two days earlier than Bruno is listed as lacking. (It was presumed misplaced however was found by kin in early 2017.) My aunt Hilde (Gawlick) Kehn remembers the contents of a typed one during which he apologizes for the format, however as a result of he was writing from a darkish cellar that was all he might do, having discovered touch-typing as an apprentice in a paperware retailer. From their content material it’s potential to treat the handwritten letter because the penultimate and the typed one as his final.

Bruno had been despatched to Stalingrad to hitch the sixth Military underneath area marshal Friedrich Paulus. They superior on Stalingrad and the assault correct started on August 23rd. Paulus’s forces have been encircled by the Pink Military Nov. 19th and capitulated on February 2nd of the subsequent yr. On the that conclusion, 90,000 males remained of the unique 300,000. Of these survivors almost half perished in spring 1943 throughout dying marches to Soviet labor camps; of the remaining 45,000 solely 6000 returned to Germany. My uncle is among the many lifeless or lacking at Stalingrad, his physique by no means recovered. Bruno’s identify, considered one of over 120,000 German lifeless or lacking listed on giant granite cubes and a wall of plaques on the Rossoschka Warfare Graves Cemetery, west of Volgograd (previously Stalingrad).

The work incorporates so many parts and elements to type its montage.

RG: My compositional methodology varies from work to work. Because the letters type the fons et origo of the work, my architectural planning proceeds from the texts themselves. Their poetic and structural constitutions translate immediately into the choices and issues that govern the work’s musical language and design. I made a decision from the onset that I might essentially need to place Bruno by means of his letters inside a bigger soundscape of the battle; therefore this recommended the formal idea of an electroacoustic montage (singular to my compositions up to now). Consequently, archival sound materials is a defining and important element of the piece. The work options 5 architectural and dramaturgical sonic planes: (1) recorded piano (piano I), (2) stay stage piano (piano II), (three) spoken texts, (four) sung texts, and (5) Soundscape Stalingrad.

The Gawlick household acquired an upright piano in 1936 and Bruno performed as an adolescent. The recorded piano represents his innocence earlier than descending into Stalingrad, so the music, recorded, is akin to a snapshot, an image of him repeating in our reminiscence and remembrance, a musical profile (the final photograph our household has of Bruno is dated August 19 1942). The reside piano represents a collective conscience, a sound image of mourning, recollections set in movement time and again by dwelling and frozen reminiscences. Piano II interacts not solely with Bruno’s frozen profile of piano I however with the opposite dramaturgical planes of the work. The spoken texts embrace each of the letters. From the onset I made a decision to not set them to music; they must be spoken. Three recordings can be used: (a) the recording of me studying the letters (my voice characterizes each him and as he writes the letters); (b) a recording of my 93-year-old aunt Hilde studying the letters of her fallen brother; and (c) by Max van Egmond, the good Dutch baritone of the 20th century, who was drawn to this undertaking as a result of as a WWII baby captured in Dutch Indonesia he had been interred in a Japanese focus camp) whose voice represents Bruno “rising previous” together with his sister and siblings. The recorded readings dramatically interact with each other by way of superimposition, interpolation, and sonic rendering. The sung texts embrace phrases from the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, from Ezekiel and Revelation, and mirror the collective consciousness, by way of troopers’ prayers within the face of demise, of collective struggling. (Passages embrace oft repeated phrases spoken by Stalingrad troopers, in addition to the opening strains from Brahms’s German Requiem.) Soundscape Stalingrad, aircraft 5, is current all through the work, interacting with the opposite sonic / dramaturgical planes, and is each a chronicle and agent of the musical drama.

Six recorded excerpts, interwoven with the music of pianos I & II, represent this soundscape: (so as) (1) excerpts from Hitler’s speech from the Löwenbräukeller, November eight 1942; (2) Richard Tauber’s 1927 recording of Allein, wieder allein … Es steht ein Soldat am Wolgastrand from Franz Lehar’s operetta Der Zarewitsch, an aria recognized to each soldier on the Japanese Entrance, holding notably poignant which means since it’s a few soldier standing guard removed from residence on the banks of the Wolga; (three) excerpts from the simulcast Christmas message to all fronts of the Third Reich, December 24 1942; (four) excerpts from Göring’s speech (generally known as the Nibelungen-speech) from the Ministry of Aviation, January 30, 1943 (handle earlier than Wehrmacht members on the 10th anniversary of the seizure of energy); (5) excerpts from Furtwängler’s recording of the Adagio from Bruckner’s seventh Symphony with the Berlin Philharmonic, April 1 1942 (broadcast instantly earlier than Göring’s speech); and (6) inclusion all through of unique recorded battle sounds (artillery, sirens, air strikes, machinegun, detonations, and so forth.) from numerous theaters of conflict throughout World Warfare II together with Stalingrad.

All Third Reich archival materials was requested from and authorised / licensed by the inspiration of the German broadcast archives.

What do you hope the viewers takes away from the efficiency?

RG: This work is very private. By means of analysis into his division’s involvement within the battle, it has turn into attainable to comply with Bruno’s steps in virtually every day intervals. Immersing myself into the hell and depravity of Stalingrad by means of archival sources and specialist literature has been heartwrenching, profoundly painful and shifting. Retracing his steps inside the horror of the battle and bigger sociopolitical cultural context has consumed me because the discovery of his handwritten letter, in early 2017.

Ralf Yusuf Gawlick

In essence, every considered one of us exists / persists in two elementary methods: how we stay and the way we’re remembered. Bruno’s life, like hundreds earlier than and after, was minimize brief with no risk to stay (a lot much less how / what sort of) a life. And the way is he remembered? Solely by way of the reminiscence and persistence of reminiscence of those that recall him — and people are ever fewer. In reality, Bruno was held as a silent reminiscence in lots of our households, not often or by no means spoken of due to the grief and ache. I felt referred to as to write down this work for my younger uncle, to offer homage to his reminiscence for all the household, and in inventive phrases to provide voice to a narrative which tragically repeats each day! His dying, certainly one of tens of millions and hundreds of thousands, embodies, within the phrases of the poet Wilfred Owen, the tragedy of “conflict and the pity of struggle.”

This composition, a musical memorial, preserves Bruno’s reminiscence. The work’s title consists of his direct phrases: he signed his letters Herzliche Grüße Bruno, which phrases may also be used as an handle, a greeting. Certainly, they’re the final phrases spoken within the piece, representing the primary acutely aware phrases spoken by my father, Dieter, to his older brother. I tackle the phrases in my dedication, Nie gekannt, doch nie vergessen (by no means recognized, however by no means forgotten) on to Bruno.

I invite the listener to this composition to maneuver by means of time and area to mirror on the loss and struggling of one of many final century’s most horrific battles and emerge engaged in our personal day.

The tragedy and circumstances behind the texts make it so profoundly shifting and introspective: these will not be poems, not diary entries, not subjective, theoretical or inventive musings  — no, these final letters are phrases written in full consciousness that the top was close to, directed to his household: mother and father and siblings. They’re a final greeting, a final breath of existence, a last reflection. And since these final letters are final utterances I approached them with a humility and reverence as with no different texts I’ve ever set — as a result of his final phrases can’t and shouldn’t be ‘set’! In Therefore, within the work Bruno’s phrases are learn — artistically, I might contemplate it unconscionable to have them sung! By way of Bruno’s phrases I enter into his younger soul and bear witness to misplaced innocence and a life minimize tragically brief! Thus, Herzliche Grüße Bruno ~ Briefe aus Stalingrad  is an intimate musical memorial: the phrases in my dedication within the rating, addressed on to my uncle Bruno, are: Nie gekannt, doch nie vergessen. (By no means recognized however by no means forgotten).

World Première: Greatest Regards Bruno – Letters from Stalingrad for baritone, 2 pianos (stay & recorded) and sound montage

Saturday, March 30th at 7pm  
First Baptist Church in Newton Centre
$20; BC College students/School Free 

Bradford Gleim, Baritone; Chi-Chen Wu, piano 

Work Webpage 

BC Live performance Hyperlink