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VOLUME 1 – Germany, Austria, Switzerland; the pre-war years, unrest…

For the first concert in the series we invited Rolf Somann to share some of his selected texts with us. Rolf was born 1951 in Berlin, the son of a pacifist and grandson of a Nazi party member. He is a language teacher, translator and music lover, who amongst other things, translated Mozart’s letters into Dutch.

“Language and music are able to connect people. The connecting power of music is more evident, because languages can also separate people from each other. Fortunately, music is a universal language and cannot evoke any misunderstandings. After wars, languages become silent, because war plunges culture into chaos, meaning and meaninglessness. While the language stutters and flees into the sound, the music is able to make a new beginning. Take the flute … “

Rolf Somann read excerpts from Bertolt Brecht An die Nachgeborenen (1935), Heinrich Böll Nicht nur zur Weihnachtszeit (1951), Ulrich Alexander Boschwitz Der Reisende (1938), Paul Celan Todesfuge (1945)  and schtzngrmm (1957) by Ernst Jandl

VOLUME 2 – Russia

The speaker for the second programme was the Georgian-born, Nina Targan Mouravi. Nina is an artist, performer and translator who attended  the prestigious Surikov Art Institute in Moscow. Halfway through the six-year study she returned to Georgia and graduated as a book illustrator at the State Academy in Tbilisi. Since 1991, she has lived in the Netherlands where she is active as a translator of Russian and Georgian poetry and prose, as well as an artist and graphic designer. In 2017, one of her works was nominated for the Dutch portrait prize and exhibited in Soestdijk Palace. She has portrayed writer Henk Bernlef and pianist Nino Gvetadze, among others.(www.russischepoezie.nl

Nina selected the following powerful and touching poems: Anna Akhmatova (1889-1966) – ‘Courage’ (1941) and ‘In memory of Valja, diptych’ (1942), Arseny Tarkovsky (1907-1989) – Two poems in memory of Marina Tsvetaeva (1941 & 1965) and Rasul Gamzatov (1923-2003) – ‘Cranes’ (1965)

VOLUME 3 – The Netherlands

The Dutch writer, Maarten Asscher (1957) recited several texts that for him put the music into a personal literary context. Apart from several poems, he recited prose texts by writer and holocaust-survivor G.L. Durlacher, by his own father B.J. Asscher (who in 1943 was briefly interned in the Dutch transit camp Westerbork) and by the recently deceased Slovenian writer Boris Pahor. The fact that Asscher’s father and grandfather were interred in Westerbork at the same time as Leo Smit gives a particularly power resonance to the music.

Maarten Asscher has written novels, essays and stories. He also writes and translates poetry (by amongst others, Albrecht Haushofer, Fernando Pessoa, Paul Valéry). He has previously worked as a literary publisher, as a cultural policy advisor and as a bookseller.

His autobiographical book A House in England. A Grandson’s Novel (De Bezige Bij, 2020) on the wartime history of his father’s family, has also been translated into German and is published by Luchterhand Verlag.