Francesco Lotoro

francesco-LotoroIn 1982, Dr. Francesco Lotoro visited Auschwitz and was amazed to find in its archives, a treasure trove of music written by prisoners. Ever since, Professor Lotoro has dedicated his life and career to finding, authenticating, transcribing, and cataloguing this precious legacy.

Traveling all over the world in search of this lost music, Professor Lotoro has found over 4,000 pieces of music — from astonishingly beautiful chamber music to avant-garde jazz to bawdy vaudevillian songs—and he estimates that 1,500 pieces are still waiting to be discovered.

These pieces were scribbled in notebooks, diaries, and even on toilet paper. Many of the finds originated in Terezin in the Czech Republic. Terezin was a concentration camp used by the Third Reich as propaganda to hide their plans for extermination., where music was allowed. Orchestras and bands were created and allowed to perform.

Thus far, Lotoro’s discoveries have resulted in a collection of over 4,000 manuscripts, around 13,000 microfiches, as well as numerous letters, drawings, and photographs. Professor Lotoro converted to Judaism and believes it is his Mitzvah to preserve this cultural heritage. He knows that he must move quickly or the music of that generation will be lost.

As a concert pianist, Professor Lotoro studied at The Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest, Hungary. Subsequently, he studied with Tamas Vasary and Aldo Ciccolini. In 1995, Lotoro founded the Orchestra Musica Judaica. His discography includes over 40 CDs, including 24 of Concentrationary music with KZ Musik.

In 2007 Dahlan and Honora Foah met Francesco Lotoro and inspired by his work, created a concert of some of the works he had discovered. The concert evolved into the Creativity in Captivity project dedicated to supporting Dr. Lotoro’s work.

NPR radio story: http://www.npr.org/2013/01/25/169364174/honoring-our-will-to-live-the-lost-music-of-the-holocaust