The talk examines relations between Polish and Polish-Jewish composers, classical musicians, and music critics in the decades surrounding the Second World War. By analyzing the life courses of these musicians, Mackenzie Pierce reveals their aesthetic responses to the Holocaust and their role in reconstructing cultural life after WWII. A main focus of the talk will be the composer Roman Palester – one of the most productive and forward-looking composers of the 1940s – and his family – who masked their own Jewish roots in occupied Warsaw, hid Jews in their apartment, and aided Żegota.
Mackenzie Pierce received his PhD in musicology from Cornell University, where his research examined the aftermath of the Second World War in Polish and Polish-Jewish musical culture. His articles have been published or are forthcoming in the Journal of Musicology, 19th-Century Music, and in Słuch Absolutny, the first edited volume devoted to the composer Roman Palester. His research has also led to collaborations with musicians and scholars on both sides of the Atlantic, including the performance festival “Forbidden Songs,” which featured six US premieres and the re-premiere of the 1947 film Zakazane piosenki with new English subtitles. His research has been supported by fellowships from the Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, The Kosciuszko Foundation, and the Beinecke Foundation. He is currently a research fellow at the Muzeum Historii Żydów Polskich POLIN.
The seminar will be held in English. It will take place on 28 May at 11 AM in a meeting room located in the Blue Tower (entrance from Tłomackie Street).