Letters from Bozena
cycle of 5 songs for soprano, viola and piano

Charles Heller
Composition Date: 2009
Duration: 00:25:00
Genre: Solo Voice, With Chamber Ensemble, , Keyboard / String Bowed

Instrumentation:

Instrumentation Set Number 1:
  • 1 x Piano
  • 1 x Soprano
  • 1 x Viola
Click here to download full work (8.19 Mb - Not printable)

Programme Note:
The texts of these songs are taken verbatim from letters sent by Božena Hellerová, the composer's grandmother (1861-1940), to her son Otto, the composer's father (1900-1969), when he fled from central Europe to England in 1939.

The Heller family lived for 400 years in the small Czech town of Polná. Czech Jews spoke primarily German, but by 1900 Otto's generation spoke Czech as their first language and learnt German later. Božena's generation was bilingual. Božena's letters
were written in German in very neat "Kurrentschrift" handwriting which is not
commonly decipherable today.

In March 1939 Otto was living with his brother in Prague and went for a short visit to his sister Anna (Anda) in Vienna. While he was there he chanced to hear a radio broadcast from Bratislava saying that Slovakia would declare imminent independence. He knew this was the signal for Hitler to invade Czechoslovakia, and so he decided immediately not to return home but to flee to the West. He was advised that the easiest country to enter as a refugee was Britain. He used all his available money on a plane ticket to London and arrived with only a few clothes. Britain had already set up a network of volunteer aid societies for Czech refugees and in a short time he was provided with hospitality in the homes of the Todd and Newbold families in Birkenhead (Liverpool). Being an excellent singer and pianist he became well-liked in the local community, with whom he retained a close friendship until his death in 1969. Božena died of natural causes in May 1940 and was given a normal Jewish burial. About 17 members of her children's families perished in the Holocaust.

Božena's letters were stored in the back of a closet and were not discovered until 2006.

EMLetters from BoženaCLOSE_EM was specially composed for my dear friends Petr Vašicek, Marta
Vašicková Vavrová and Rivka Golani.
I am very grateful to my dear friends Dr Michaela Kral, who transcribed the original
letters onto computer mes, and Jan O. Hellmann who translated the letters into English
and added many helpful comments. All these friends have now become Božena's friends - through her prayers and wishes we have become a new family.

Charles Heller
Toronto 2009

Premiere Information:
14 April 2010, Spiro Ark Cultural Centre, London, England: Duo Bohemia-Berlin (Marta Vavrova, Soprano, and Petr Vasicek, Piano) and Rivka Golani (Viola)

CATALOGUE INFO:

  • Call Number:
  • MV 1205 H477let
  • Genre:
  • Solo Voice, With Chamber Ensemble, , Keyboard / String Bowed
  • Date of Acquisition:
  • April 4, 2012
  • Type:
  • Print-music, Published by CMC
  • Physical Description:
  • 1 score (39 p.) ;
    39 Pages
    Height: 28 cm
    Width: 22 cm
    Parts page count: 9
    1 viola part (9 p.) ;
    Height: 28 cm
    Width: 22 cm
  • Language Information
  • Language of libretto: German
    Main language: English
  • Additional Information:

Request a Repertoire Consultation
Suggest Modification for this Record

Available For:

Centrestreams:

Click here to listen to Letters from Bozena cycle of 5 songs for soprano, viola and piano in Centrestreams.

Available Products for this piece:

TitleDetailsPriceAdd this Product
Letters from Bozena cycle of 5 songs for soprano, viola and piano: Score and Parts
Score and Parts
(downloadable PDF)
$22.99
Letters from Bozena cycle of 5 songs for soprano, viola and piano by Charles Heller (Score)
Printed on demand
$18.99
Letters from Bozena cycle of 5 songs for soprano, viola and piano by Charles Heller (Score and Parts)
Printed on demand
$37.99
Letters from Bozena cycle of 5 songs for soprano, viola and piano: Score
Score
(downloadable PDF)
$14.99
Letters from Bozena cycle of 5 songs for soprano, viola and piano
Library Loan
--
Copies of this work are available for loan from: Toronto, Montréal, Calgary, Vancouver