1 I 1898, Cieszyn (Silesia) — 18 X 1944, KL Auschwitz-Birkenau

BACK

PL  |  DE  |  ENG  | NO |  UKR

Biography

Viktor Ullmann was a pianist, composer and director. He organised and co-organised the musical life in the Theresienstadt ghetto where he composed many works, including the opera The Emperor of Atlantis or Death’s Refusal.

He was born on 1 January 1898 to a family of assimilated Jews in Cieszyn, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He was baptised in the Catholic Church. In 1909, he began to attend a music school in Vienna, where he found his mentor in the avante garde composer, Arnold Schönberg. He served in the military during World War I.

After the war, he began studying law and attended Schönberg’s composition seminar. In 1919, he terminated his participation in the courses and move to Prague to devote himself fully to music and work in the New German Theatre. He also worked for Czech Radio, published articles and press reviews while attending the Prague Conservatory.

When Germany annexed Bohemia and Moravia, Viktor had to contend with the restrictions imposed on all people of Jewish descent. On 8 September 1942, he was deported to the ghetto in Terezín (Theresienstadt) where he was active in the camp’s cultural life, organising concerts, playing the piano and composing such works as the opera The Emperor of Atlantis or Death’s Refusal. On 16 October 1944, he was deported to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp where he died in the gas chamber two days later.

Viktor Ullmann was a pianist, composer and director. He organised and co-organised the musical life in the Theresienstadt ghetto where he composed many works, including the opera The Emperor of Atlantis or Death’s Refusal.

He was born on 1 January 1898 to a family of assimilated Jews in Cieszyn, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He was baptised in the Catholic Church. In 1909, he began to attend a music school in Vienna, where he found his mentor in the avante garde composer, Arnold Schönberg. He served in the military during World War I.

After the war, he began studying law and attended Schönberg’s composition seminar. In 1919, he terminated his participation in the courses and move to Prague to devote himself fully to music and work in the New German Theatre. He also worked for Czech Radio, published articles and press reviews while attending the Prague Conservatory.

When Germany annexed Bohemia and Moravia, Viktor had to contend with the restrictions imposed on all people of Jewish descent. On 8 September 1942, he was deported to the ghetto in Terezín (Theresienstadt) where he was active in the camp’s cultural life, organising concerts, playing the piano and composing such works as the opera The Emperor of Atlantis or Death’s Refusal. On 16 October 1944, he was deported to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp where he died in the gas chamber two days later.

Parts I and V of 7th Piano Sonata

Violin: Marcin Markowicz, Beata Wołczyk
Viola: Monika Młynarczyk
Cello: Jan Skopowski
Double bass: Tomasz Borski

Arrangement for a string quintet: Ronen Nissan

Recording from an „Unfinished Lives” concert in the White Stork Synagogue in Wrocław on 9 November 2016.

Tod und Harlekin („Death and Harlequin”)

Part of the Emperor of Atlantis score written in Theresienstadt, noted by Karel Berman.
Scans of the score were gifted to the exhibition by Terezin Memorial.

Kaiser von Atlantis oder die Tod-Verweigerung
(„Emperor of Atlantis or Death’s Refusal”)

First page of the Emperor of Atlantis score written in Theresienstadt.
Scans of the score belong to the Paul Sacher Stiftung, Basel, Sammlung Viktor Ullmann.