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On 23 August 2020, the Jewish Museum Berlin is opening its new core exhibition. Until then the museum will be closed for renovations.

Defiant Requiem Verdi’s "Messa da Requiem" at the Theresienstadt Ghetto

Concert Drama

The concert drama "Defiant Requiem" is dedicated to the Czech conductor and pianist Rafael Schächter, who performed Verdi's Messa da Requiem with hundreds of prisoners in the Theresienstadt ghetto around 70 years ago.

For the people in the Theresienstadt ghetto, music was an element of self-assertion in a daily camp life shaped by humiliation, misery, illness, and death. Initially performed in secret, the concerts were later abused by the Nazis for propaganda purposes. Rafael Schächter and almost all members of the choir were murdered by the Nazis.

Past event


Konzerthaus Berlin
Gendarmenmarkt, 10117 Berlin

The American conductor Murry Sidlin remembers with the "Defiant Requiem" the people in Theresienstadt for whom the Requiem and work with Rafael Schächter became a means of internal resistance. In his production, he links Verdi’s Requiem with film footage and eyewitness accounts from members of the choir. Seventy years after the last concert in Theresienstadt, we would like to remember the people who contributed under the most extreme conditions to a diverse cultural life in the Theresienstadt ghetto.

Artists of the evening

Murry Sidlin (conductor), the Berlin Konzerthaus Orchestra, the Young Ensemble Berlin Choir, and the Vocal Academy Berlin (director: Frank Markowitsch), Aga Mikolaj (soprano), Gerhild Romberger (mezzo soprano) , Steven Tharp (tenor) István Kovács (bass)
Iris Berben and Ulrich Matthes (speakers)

Sponsored by the German Capital Culture Fund (Hauptstadtkulturfond) and the "Remembrance, Responsibility, and Future" Foundation.

The Jewish Museum Berlin has an extensive program on offer surrounding the Defiant Requiem and the focal topic of the Terezín Ghetto.

With the support of the Friends of the Jewish Museum Berlin

Where, when, what?

  • When 4 March 2014, 8 pm
  • Where Konzerthaus Berlin

    Gendarmenmarkt, 10117 Berlin

    See location on map

Events Accompanying Defiant Requiem: Terezín Remembrance Week (6)

Terezín Remembrance Week

With Defiant Requiem, performed internationally every year since 2002, the American conductor Murry Sidlin commemorates the performances of Verdi’s Requiem at the Terezín (Theresienstadt) ghetto. The dramatized concert consists of an unabridged performance of Verdi’s requiem mass interspersed with readings of eyewitness accounts and extracts from a Nazi propaganda film about Terezín. The concert had its German premiere on 4 March 2014 at the Konzerthaus Berlin. The concert was accompanied by numerous events related to Terezín.

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"As if it were a Life"

27 February 2014, 7.30 pm
Reading from the “Tatsachenbericht” by Philipp Manes from the Theresienstadt Ghetto, 1942–44

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Cultural Trip to Prague and Terezín

31 January – 2 February 2014
To go along with the performance of the Verdi Requiem, staged as a dramatic concert titled Defiant Requiem, we are organizing a study trip to Prague and Theresienstadt.

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Transport from paradise

1 March 2014, 7.30 pm
Zbyněk Brynych, Czechoslovakia 1963, 98 min.

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Art and Culture in the Terezín Ghetto

2 March 2014, 11 am – 6 pm
In four lectures, the symposium explores the history of Theresienstadt, the “ghetto of exceptions,” from four different angles.

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Defiant Requiem Documentary Film

3 March 2014, 7:30 pm
The documentary film tells the story of the Czech conductor and pianist Rafael Schächter and his performance of the Verdi Requiem in Theresienstadt.

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Verdi’s “Messa da Requiem” at the Theresienstadt Ghetto

The dramatic concert Defiant Requiem is dedicated to the Czech conductor and pianist Rafael Schächter, who performed the Verdi Requiem with hundreds of Theresienstadt Ghetto prisoners approximately seventy years ago.

4 Mar 2014