David Drury performs Siegfried Würzburger's organ work Passacaglia und Fuge über 'Kol Nidre' at Out of the Shadows festival, Sydney, 2017.
|Date||8th August 2017|
Siegfried Würzburger was born in 1877 in Frankfurt am Main, receiving piano and theory instruction from Iwan Knoll at the Hoch Conservatory and organ instruction from Carl Breidenstein (the latter also being choir director of the Great Synagogue in Frankfurt). Together with his wife, Siegfried founded a private music school, and they also established a youth music festival called Jugend Musiziert. Würzburger was organist at the Westend Synagogue in Frankfurt until Kristallnacht. Siegfried was practically blind from birth, and this honed his improvisation skills. He also integrated music from Bach and Buxtehude in sacred services at the Synagogue. Würzburger was an active member of the Jüdischer Kulturbund (Jewish Cultural League – the only outlet for Jews to perform after the Nazi rise to power) in Frankfurt until its dissolution. Because of his own disability, and the severe asthma of his eldest son Hans, emigration was impossible. In late 1941 he, his wife and Hans were deported to the Lodz Ghetto, where they perished because of malnutrition and cold. The Passacaglia und Fuge über Kol Nidre has six main sections, utilising two major themes from the Kol Nidre prayer. The first is the highly recognisable opening, used as an ostinato figure in the passacaglia in the pedals. The second occurring melody in the prayer is transformed into a fugue. Despite the conservative harmonic language, there are some innovative introductions of Jewish modality in the unmetered cadenzas.
These notes are based on Tina Frühauf’s German-Jewish Organ Music: An Anthology of Works from the 1820s to the 1960s (AR Editions: 2013).
Siegfried Wurzburger's son Walter escaped Nazi Germany in 1933, and eventually made his way to Singapore in 1939. In 1940, along with all other German nationals, he was deported to Australia and imprisoned in a camp in rural Victoria. The inclusion of Siegfried Würzburger's work in the program was a deliberate decision to reflect on the musical heritage of his son.