Printer-friendly version
Tasha Miner

Vengerov Moves Me To Tears This Time.

August 14, 2009 at 4:32 PM

 This is by far the most moving music video I have ever seen.

 Vengerov Plays Bach Chaconne at Auschwitz.

I'm speechless.  If I ever had the opportunity to thank Mr. Vengerov for this masterpiece, I certainly would.

Note:  Please do NOT make comments about his interpretation, whose you like better, why you don't like Vengerov's version, etc.  That is not the point of my post, nor, in and of itself, what moved me to tears.  Thanks.

From Thomas Gardner
Posted on August 14, 2009 at 11:20 PM

If you don't mind me asking, what did move you to tears?  I don't mean that as an idiotic or flipant question,  I actually would like to know.  I have been very preoccupied with the Holocaust over the past year and have found many different responces to the subject.  Obviously Vengerov is an awesome player as far as I am concerned, and the Chaconne is a very emotional piece, and Auschwitz is in every way a represenation of man's depravity; but what about this combination had such an affect upon you?  Would you have had the same reaction if he had played a different piece, maybe the Milstein arrangement of Chopin's Nocturne in C minor, or maybe an arrangement of the Lachrymosa for Mozart's Requiem?  Was it the visuals?  Personally, I would have had an entirely different connection to the video had he played something else.  The Chaconne is such a powerful piece...introspective, mournful, rebellious at times.  Anyway...just curious. Obvioulsy its a personal question so don't feel compelled to answer.


From Tasha Miner
Posted on August 15, 2009 at 1:44 AM


I believe the given combination is important to have moved me so much.  I am working on the Chaconne currently, and find it to be incredibly powerful when heard and played.  There are other powerful pieces, I believe Bloch's Baal Shem might also be a good fit, but this was, imho, the finest choice and tribute.

Next is the location.  I've always been mystified by such human depravity, as you call it, and while I can only have nightmares about the horrors of the many years of the Holocaust, I find I am nevertheless fascinated by such psychology that would cause so many people to commit such terrible crimes against their own species.  The tearing within myself between curiosity and disgust can bring me to tears sometimes.  To be present, as it were, even through a computer screen/camera in such place of tragedy sends my brain into overdrive recalling the many scenes I've seen from videos at school, pictures in textbooks, and articles online.  Seeing others suffer in that way also causes me great personal torture.

Finally, the nuance of the antique version of Vengerov's interpretation seems to call to some sort of older part of me.  Not entirely sure how that works, or how better to describe it, but I feel older when such a piece is played how it was centuries ago.

I will never play the same again.  I hope this answers your question?  Might I ask you answer it yourself, were you so moved?

From Thomas Gardner
Posted on August 15, 2009 at 2:57 AM

Thanks for writing Tascha.  I appreciate your honest responce.  It's hard for me to answer my own question.  I was moved by it for sure...but not necessarily for the obvious reasons presented by the video.  I guess I was moved more by what it made me think about.  For example....I kept thinking about the connections that were made in the video.  Here was of the death of millions of people...elderly people, babies, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters.  Strangers.  Most of these people were Jewish and were executed at the hands of German soldiers.  And then here was Maxim Vengerov...Russian born violinist, who, had he been alive during those times might very well have found himself a prisoner of the camp himself.  And then there was the piece...the Chaconne, written by a German Christian more than two hundred years prior to the atrocities themselves had occurred.  In this place where once had been prisoners murdered by a terrible German ideology there was now German music of such beauty. It seemed like all these separate events and people were suddenly connected at that point in time.   And then I thought of Alma Rose...had she ever played the Chaconne in those very halls, or Ms. Walfisch (shown in the video?)  Had those same German soldiers listened to the same notes of Bach that Vengerov was then playing?  What did it make them think of?  Obviously not what it makes us think of.  What about the other prisoners.  If they heard it...did it give them comfort?  What did they hear in the notes?

Its always strange to me to see photos or videos of present day Auschwitz.  It never seems real to me.  Even though I know its see it is almost like seeing a movie set.  Of course, I know that what went on there was not make believe.  I guess with all the accounts I've read of what went on there when I actually see footage of the place it seems so plain compared to the horror of the actual events.  I almost expect the camp to eminate evil like some haunted mansion and instead it looks like some sort of forgotten fair grounds.  I'm sure were I actually to go to Auschwitz and walk the grounds, see the train tracks were so many people were unloaded like catte and separated into groups...those that were thought fit for work and those that were led within minutes to the gas chambers...that it would be different.

I guess what really moved me the most was how eerily the music summed up what Auschwitz was.  I'm sure Bach didn't intend that...hopefully he could never have imagined anything like Auschwitz...and yet the music has such an inner mournfulness to it that it can certainly succeed in doing what it did in the video.   Somehow the music of Bach communciates through time and speaks for the collective voices of those who were part of Auschwitz....that moved me...

From Tasha Miner
Posted on August 15, 2009 at 3:31 AM

 And then when he arrives, on the outside of the gates, and the symbolism there REALLY got to me.

From Royce Faina
Posted on August 15, 2009 at 3:39 PM

That is an incredible video, and as always I wasn't disappointed by Maestro Vengerov's performance.  It was solid, no non-sence streight through and hard hitting.  I loved how it added so much depth to the pictures, especially when I looked into the eyes of the survivors with the music... it reached so deep into my soul!  Thank you a million Tasha!


From Tasha Miner
Posted on August 15, 2009 at 4:32 PM

 Thanks, Royce!  I'm glad you enjoyed as much as I did.

From Michael Divino
Posted on August 15, 2009 at 8:40 PM

I have never heard it with that tuning and it is certainly darker than what we know.


Bravo !

From Kim Vawter
Posted on August 15, 2009 at 8:38 PM

Thanks for asking THE question, Thomas. I wrote and wrote about much the same things that you did when you answered your own question. You seemed to be able to get down much of what passes thought my mind whenI come face to face with this period in history. Again.

   For me it is like a piece of clay that covers my heart to try to shield it from dealing with all the floods of emmotion and personal sorrow that occure when the place, the time, the circumstances in history as well as the music of the violin all converge. 

  The only way we can deal with this complete horror is to push it as far back in our mind as we can. Men who come pack from the war experience post tramatic stress--How can they function again in peace? How can we enjoy such a lovely piece of music played on an instrument we so much revere when it is applied to this place?

I had to face examples of the death camps in a 18mm film shown in the schools. i would get physically ill if I was called to fix a projector in a classroom where the film broke. It was my job to routinely fix a jamed projector or a broken film but when this film broke I had to steel myself so that I wouldn't passout or throw up or both. I was a young woman then and I have learned to get past this sort of thing. Still--?

Should we be anestecised by these horrors? 

This is a musical discussion--not a political or ethical discussion--I just hope that in 100 years or less violin students will not be haunted by these images and have no recollection of this sort of thing in their world. Peace?

Maybe just the beautiful melody, skillfully played will make us weep.

From Justin Keck
Posted on August 16, 2009 at 5:36 AM really makes you think.

This entry has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Facebook YouTube Instagram Email is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

JR Judd Violins
JR Judd Violins

Los Angeles Philharmonic
Los Angeles Philharmonic

Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra
Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases

Anne Cole Violin Maker
Anne Cole Violin Maker Shopping Guide Shopping Guide

Metzler Violin Shop

Southwest Strings

Bobelock Cases

Johnson String Instrument/Carriage House Violins

Jargar Strings

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop


Los Angeles Violin Shop


String Masters

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews. Interviews Volume 1 Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn Interviews Volume 2 Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine