Inhaltspezifische Aktionen

ENGLISH program booklet for the Ted Rosenthal concert as part of the “Dear Erich” project


ted rosenthal trio

A concert,
a family story,
en encounter,

Welcome to the Hermann-Levi-Saal of the city of Giessen. The Institute for Musicology and Music Education is very pleased to welcome you this evening. What awaits you is no ordinary concert. Today is about music and yet about much more than music.


The beginning

More than a year ago, our lecturer for drums, percussion and jazz, Berthold Möller, received a call from the USA. On the other end of the line was his friend Paul Miller, who had taught for many years at Penn State University in Pennsylvania and who, as a jazz expert, had also come to us in Giessen for an annual workshop for almost two decades. Paul told Berthold that a well-known New York jazz musician wanted to get in touch with our institute because his own family history was connected with the city and the university. Berthold Möller made contact and the two met online for the first time. From this initial moment on, a collaboration with that musician from New York has developed that reaches a culmination in tonight's concert, but goes far beyond. To understand the joint project, we must first go back to 1933.

Ted Rosenthal's family history

For the longest part of his life, Ted Rosenthal knew little about the history of his father Erich's family, as Erich rarely spoke about the past. As a Jew, Erich had been expelled from the University of Giessen in 1933 by then-Rector Adolf Jess. In 1938 he fled to New York and - unlike his parents and the vast majority of his relatives - survived the Holocaust. In 2015, his son Ted was invited to the reopening of the old Jewish school in Bad Camberg, the hometown of his grandmother Herta. Before his trip, he went to his attic to pack up a small box of old letters from his grandmother to his father. The letters were in German and Ted met Dr. Peter Schmidt in Camberg, who later translated them for him. All the letters dated between 1938 and 1942, and it was while reading them that Ted first learned more about his family's history. Deeply moved, he decided to deal with it artistically.

Dear Erich

He composed the jazz opera Dear Erich and premiered it with New York City Opera in 2019. In this work, the letters form the gravitational center, not only of the libretto, but also of their emotional cosmos. It is hard to imagine a more personal momentum for the composition of a work of art than a family story that silenced one's father about it. Dear Erich continued to occupy Ted Rosenthal's mind constantly even after its premiere. Not only was the opera performed in several countries, but the composer was invited by a wide variety of institutions, from universities to memorial sites, to give talks and workshops on Dear Erich. In Giessen, Dear Erich has in turn made further and new waves.


Encounters in Giessen
When Berthold Möller told the music education team at the Music Institute about the conversation with Ted Rosenthal, it resonated with the listeners. The idea quickly developed to turn this encounter into more than an invitation or "just" a concert. Dr. Sabine Schneider-Binkl (substitute of the professorship for music education) formed and led a team that took Dear Erich as an opportunity to learn more about the work and their own history connected to it. The goal is to strengthen the culture of remembrance. As part of the effort, there was a great deal of networking with experts both inside and outside of JLU, who contributed their knowledge from a variety of fields in a series of lectures during the summer semester of 2023 and taught students in a seminar specifically tailored to the complex of topics. At the same time, the team wanted to host a concert with Ted Rosenthal and began writing to various funders. These efforts culminate in tonight's event - but our project does not end there.


Ted Rosenthal is currently on a European tour with his trio. Performing the opera in its entirety in this setting would have been beyond his (and even more so our own) capabilities. However, this does not mean that the idea has completely left us. The cooperation between Ted Rosenthal and the Music Institute is to be continued, especially in the context of courses at JLU and school cooperations. In the coming year, there will be a scientific publication that approaches topics such as the culture of remembrance, the prevention of extremism, or the aesthetic approach to the Holocaust and other catastrophes of humanity and so documents the results of student work. All of this is more necessary today than ever before, because the recent movements to the political right wing, the new populism of the 21st century, the war in Israel - all these are the signs of our times, and we have to heed them if we want to preserve freedom and democracy.


We would like to thank all our supporters and look forward to seeing Ted Rosenthal live with you.


The Dear Erich Team

Dr. Sabine Schneider Binkl (substitute professorship music education)
Petra Dietz (secretariat music education)
Berthold Möller (instrumental teacher drums and percussion)
Steffen Peter (Research Assistant)
Johannes Kühn (Research Assistant)
Lukas Auradniczek (Student Assistant)
Merlin Nikolcz (Student Assistant)
Boris Wilde (Student Assistant)


Our collaboration with Ted Rosenthal and today's concert were supported by:


Ernst-Ludwig-Chambré-Foundation at Lich


Erwin Stein Foundation


Giessen University Society


Cultural Office of the City of Giessen


Cultural Foundation Giessen


Third Mission Fund of the JLU Gießen