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Violins of Hope

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Violins of Hope

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January 23rd and 24th at the Tennessee Theater the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra had a special performance partnering with Violins of Hope. This organization, founded by Amnon Weinstein, is dedicated to finding and restoring violins played by Jewish musicians during the Holocaust. Weinstein has been doing this for 20 years. His parents immigrated to Palestine in 1939, leaving the rest of his family in Europe. His father opened a violin shop there and taught Weinstein the skills he uses today. Weinstein started this organization for the 400 members of his extended family killed in the Holocaust. He became a violin restorer and now searches for these instruments. He believes the past owner’s “voices and spirits live on through the violins.”  Violins of Hope now have over fifty violins in their possession. Members of the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra played some of these violins during the performances, and each was featured and played by a soloist.

Peppered throughout the music, the performance also included stories of the violins and Holocaust survivors. There is one violin from Lyon, France made in 1900. In 1942, many Jews were arrested in Paris and carted away on trains to concentration camps. One man had hold of his violin, and when the train stopped somewhere in France, he tossed it out onto the tracks where workers were tending the rails, hoping one of them would take it and continue to give it life. One of the workers did pick it up and took it home. Years passed and eventually the worker’s children gave the violin to Violins of Hope to be restored and kept.

Another violin, called the Auschwitz Violin, was made in 1850 in Germany. It was originally owned by an inmate who played in the orchestra at the concentration camp. Amazingly, he survived along with his violin. Abraham Davidowitz, a Jew who fled from Poland to Russia in 1939, bought the violin for fifty dollars from an inmate when he returned to post-war Germany to help survivors living in camps in Munich. He gave it to his son to learn to play. When he grew up, he gave it to Violins of Hope.

This information as well as many more stories about the violins can be found on their website: https://violinsofhopeknox.com/

“There is a saying that… for the heights and depths no words can reach, God gave us music, the soul’s own speech.”

-Jennifer Harrell                                                                                                                                                                                                 Director of Education & Community Partnerships                                                                                                                                  Knoxville Symphony Orchestra

 

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