On 29 August, Krzysztof Penderecki, a contender for the crown of Poland’s most celebrated living composer, premiered a new work in tribute to the victims of the Łódź Ghetto.
Entitled Kaddish – To All Łódź Abrameks Who Desired to Live and to the Poles Who Saved Jews, the work was scored for a full orchestra, with a libretto for men’s choir and soloists.
The piece was commissioned to mark the 65th anniversary of the liquidation of the Łódź Ghetto, with the premiere hosted at the city’s Teatr Wielki (Grand Theatre).
The composer managed to incorporate verses by the fabled poet Abram Cytryn into the libretto. In 1944, Cytryn was dispatched from the Ghetto to Auschwitz, where he perished that year.
Before the war, Łódź was one of the most dynamic cities in Poland, with a correspondingly high Jewish population. The ghetto established by the Nazis in 1940 was the second largest in occupied Poland. As many as 250,000 Jews were interned there. Only a tiny fraction of this number survived.