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This thesis explores the experiences of a South Florida klezmer ensemble known as the Holocaust Survivor Band. The group was co-founded by Saul Dreier, then an 89-year-old resident of Coconut Creek, Florida, and Reuwen "Ruby" Sosnowicz, 85 years old at the time, a Delray Beach, Florida, resident, in April 2014. Dreier was inspired to form a musical ensemble of Holocaust survivors after reading about the death of pianist and fellow Holocaust survivor Alice Herz-Sommer. Ruby's daughter Chana Sosnowicz joined the band as lead singer, and Holocaust survivor descendant Jeff Black joined as a guitar player. In sum, I tell the story of the Holocaust Survivor Band, a contemporary musical ensemble representative of a historically significant era. I emphasize the group's ability to represent the Holocaust era to present-day audiences. To demonstrate this, the ensemble's experiences are portrayed through statements and information from the band members themselves, through descriptions in various articles and media, through my observations of their performances and rehearsals, and through my interpretations of all these source materials. Based on this content, I present some generalizations about the band's significance. One of my more obvious conclusions is that the band serves as musical witnesses to the Holocaust by using their performances to remind people of the period and to share their life stories. As a result, the group contributes to the historical and collective memory of the Holocaust. This in turn can evoke nostalgic feelings within the band and audience, thus further establishing connections to the past. In addition, the band seeks to prevent genocide from happening again by promoting a message of peace in their music, particularly through their song "Peace for the World." Most importantly, Dreier and Sosnowicz are finding joy in music again after not playing or performing for a long time. All of this exemplifies how the ensemble has impacted both its members and those around them.
Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)
Study and teaching
Florida, Holocaust, klezmer, music, musicology, oral history
Date of Defense
April 1, 2016.
A Thesis submitted to the College of Music in partial fulfillment of the Master of Music.
Includes bibliographical references.
Frank Gunderson, Professor Directing Thesis; Michael Bakan, Committee Member; Douglass Seaton, Committee Member.
Florida State University
Allen, E. R. (2016). Celebrating and Preserving Music of Jewish Pasts: The Holocaust Survivor Band. Retrieved from http://purl.flvc.org/fsu/fd/FSU_2016SP_Allen_fsu_0071N_13071