News Item

Preserving voices Hitler couldn’t kill

03 20, 2011

Published in Press-Telegram, Long Beach, CA

By Al Rudis, Staff Writer

The beauty of concentration camps was first revealed to Ryan Ross a couple of years ago.

The graduate student of voice at Cal State Long Beach was picking repertoire for a recital when his professor of voice suggested he look at a new website created by James Conlon, the music director of Los Angeles Opera.

“The website,, had been up for a month at that point,” said Ryan Ross in a phone interview this week. Devoted to composers whose work had been suppressed by Hitler and his Nazi empire, the Orel Foundation site opened Ross's eyes to composers and music he had never heard of.

What he found was beauty created in the midst of the systematic degradation and extermination of races and people considered inferior to the Aryan ideal put forward by Hitler.

The discovery led Ross to the subject of his CSULB master's thesis, “Aesthetic Reflections on Viktor Ullman's 'Der Kaiser von Atlantis.'” Ullmann wrote the opera, performed by Long Beach Opera a couple of seasons ago, while interned at the Terezin (Theresienstadt) Concentration Camp in Czechoslovakia, before being shipped to Auschwitz, where he was murdered.

It also led to a grant from the George and Beverly August Peace foundation that allowed Ross to spend a month last summer doing research at concentration camps and museums, and to creating a series of programs about the music the Nazis tried, in vain, to suppress.

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