Holocaust Survivor George Horner’s Special Night

George Horner with Yo-Yo Ma, in concert in Symphony Hall earlier this week(Photo: NBC News)
George Horner with Yo-Yo Ma, in concert in Symphony Hall earlier this week(Photo: NBC News)

Question: What 90 year old man just made his debut as a pianist in Boston’s Symphony Hall, appearing in concert with Yo-Yo Ma, no less?

Answer: George Horner.

Dr. Horner is a retired physician now living in Pennsylvania. The trajectory of his life and a long and honorable career in medicine wouldn’t seem all that remarkable, except George Horner spent his youth in a Nazi concentration camp. He was very nearly one of the 6 million Jewish people murdered by the Nazis.

George survived the Nazi Terezin (Theresienstadt) camp in what is now the Czech republic. Terezin was a show camp, used for propaganda for the Red Cross. It was a pit stop en route to Auschwitz. Terezin has been discussed before for its resident orchestras, choruses, opera companies, chamber musicians and for the composers Vikotr Ullman, Erwin Schulhoff and Leo Smit, among the many who did not survive.

Dr. Horner was able to play piano and accordion, and to write his own tunes while in Terezin, to the comfort of himself ad fellow prisoners. He played a lot of music by his buddy Karel Svenik (who died in Auschwitz). He performed throughout the Terezin site, in its camps, barracks and even cabarets.

George Horner came to the attention of the Terezin Music Foundation and from there a concert with Yo-Yo Ma was arranged. George played the tunes he had played seventy years before, though in a very different setting. There was, presumably not a dry anything in the house. Bravo, George!

 

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