Piano Recital By Tessa Uys At Jewish Museum

Ruzan Haruriunyan's picture

When Tessa Uys fingers run up and down the ivories of the Blüthner grand piano at the Jewish Museum Berlin, it will be like meeting a trusted and familiar family member again. The instrument originally belonged to her mother Helga Bassel, who at the age of 28 fled the Nazis to South Africa in 1936. In her luggage was the grand piano she had bought in Berlin and on which her daughter was to learn.

In 2004, the concert and solo pianist Tessa Uys donated the Blüthner grand piano to the Jewish Museum Berlin. On Sunday 25 February, she will play works by Johann Sebastian Bach, Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Liszt, and Robert Schumann on this instrument steeped in history. She will also tell of her mother and grandparents' preparations for and experiences of exile. We cordially invite you to attend this concert and talk.

The well-known pianist Tessa Uys was born in Cape Town, South Africa and now lives in London. She studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London and the Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Sienna. Tessa Uys has been awarded with a number of prizes and is famed for her interpretations of Schumann and Bach in particular. In 2003, long after the death of her parents, she went through her family documents, old letters and photos and discovered the origins of her Jewish mother. At this concert, part of the program surrounding the exhibition "Home and Exile. The Emigration of German Jews after 1933," she will tell of her family's experiences.

Her mother, the pianist and piano teacher Helga Bassel, was born in Berlin in 1908. She was barred from the Reichsmusikkammer (Reich Music Chamber) by the Nazis due to her Jewish ancestry in 1935. She followed her brother Gerhard to exile in South Africa in 1936, and her parents managed to join them there in 1939. She herself and later her daughter Tessa played on this grand piano in Cape Town. Helga Bassel committed suicide in 1969. Thus she never told her daughter about her Jewish heritage and her escape from Nazi Germany.

In 2003, Tessa Uys asked the Jewish Museum Berlin to help her research her mother's life. A year later, she donated the grand piano to the Museum. It underwent complete restoration and was played for the first time again by Tessa Uys in October 2004. Since then it has been played at concerts and can be found in the permanent exhibition in the segment "In the Bosom of the Family. 1850-1933." At this her third concert at the Jewish Museum Berlin, she once more fulfils her own and the Museum's wish that she continue to play on her family's Blüthner grand piano. -- www.juedisches-museum-berlin.de

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