About Edwin Geist

Brandeis University is proud to present the US Premiere of the music of Edwin Geist.

Edwin Geist composed the kind of music Hitler called “degenerate”. Born in Berlin in 1902, Edwin was forced to flee Germany after the Nazis came to power and he was prohibited to compose or work because his father was Jewish. He lived in Lithuania with his Jewish wife, pianist Lyda Bagriansky, and was interned with her in the Kovno Ghetto when the Nazis occupied Lithuania.

Lyda Bagriansky 

 He was temporarily released and asked to compose, but he convinced the authorities he could not do so unless his wife would also be freed and she finally joined him, although with cruel limitations imposed on their lifestyle. He was eventually murdered in 1942 and Lyda, unable to live without him, committed suicide shortly after. Friends then broke into their boarded apartment, filled a suitcase with his musical scores whereas the diary he wrote for Lyda while separated from her was already with his friends, Helene and Margarete Holzman. That was all that survived from Edwin.

The lives and love of Edwin and Lyda are described in Dies Kind Soll Leben , (This Child Must Live). This memoir, written by Helene Holzman and edited by Reinhard Kaiser and Margarete Holzman, won the coveted Geschwister Scholl Prize. Reinhard Kaiser then went on to write a biography of Edwin Geist, Unerhoerte Rettung:Die Suche nach Edwin Geist (Amazing Rescue: The Search for Edwin Geist). A CD of Edwin Geist's Chamber Music and Songs was released in 2007 and received an award from the biggest and most prestigious musical publication in Germany.

Edwin Geist

Panel Discussion and US Premiere Concert!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Slosberg Auditorium


CLICK HERE for Program

2:00 pm

Panel Discussion Edwin Geist Life and Works

Bret Werb
Rosian Kerner
Dr. Bret Werb, musicologist at the United States Holocaust  Memorial Museum in Washington, DC Rosian Zerner, Edwin Geist's niece
Reinhard Kaiser
Klaus Harer
Reinhard Kaiser, Geist's biographer, Frankfurt, Germany Dr. Klaus Harer, Deputy Director of  The German Cultural Forum for Eastern Europe (Kulturforum Östliches Europa)

3:30 pm

Festive Reception

4:00 pm

US Premiere Concert of Edwin Geist Music

Verena Rein Verena Rein, Berlin, Soprano Irving Fine Society Singers and Ensemble under the direction of Nicholas Brown Nicholas A. Brown and a group of Boston Area Musicians comprising of:

Sharan Leventhal, violin
Nathanial Farny, viola
David Russell, cello
Eliko Akahori, piano
Jae Han, piano
Mark McSweeney, baritone

IMPORTANT: This event is free and open to the public, but space is limited so we urge you to reserve a seat in advance. Please call 781-736-3400 and use option 5.

For those not on the Brandeis campus, there will be an alternate event on Saturday, October 25, 2008: Goethe Institut, Boston  at 7:30 pm. Admission is free of charge.


German Consulate

Goethe Institute, Boston 

Department of Music at Brandeis University

German Cultural Forum for Eastern Europe 


Rosian Zerner, niece of E. Geist, in front of Edwin Geist's home in Berlin