On Wednesday, February 22, New York University’s Deutsches Haus will launch a poignant exhibition, “Giving Music a Face: David Friedmann’s Lost Musician Portraits from the 1920s,” with an opening event at which a group of musicians and guest conductors of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra will perform in tribute to the late artist. The event will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the German cultural center, 42 Washington Mews (at University Place, New York City, N.Y.), coinciding with the full orchestra's appearance in New York City, and including his daughter from his second marriage, Miriam Friedman Morris. The evening program is free and registration is required: Email email@example.com or call 212.998.8660.
Friedmann, a classically trained artist, sketched hundreds of his most notable contemporaries in Berlin in the 1920s and '30s, including members of the world-renowned Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. Many of his meticulous charcoal and pencil portraits of the orchestra’s illustrious musicians and conductors were published in now-defunct newspapers and exhibited in galleries. With the rise of the Third Reich and after Kristallnacht, Friedmann, who was Jewish, fled to Prague in late 1938. While he survived deportation to the Lodz Ghetto and later Auschwitz (relying on his talents as a violinist and painter to assuage his murderous guards), his wife and six-year-old daughter were murdered, and his life’s work was looted and destroyed.
Were it not for the unrelenting efforts of Miriam Friedman Morris to successfully reclaim much of her father's lost artistic legacy, the show – Feb. 23 through Mar. 30, during the hours of 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. – would not be possible. The exhibition, along with two related events at Deutsches Haus on other nights, effectively spotlight a vivid and representative example of the countless pre-war German artists whose lives were tragically upended, if not ended outright, by the Third Reich, and who, as a result, are little known today.
Using clues from the Friedmann's diaries, Morris, who lives in the New York area, spent the past two decades retracing her beloved father's footsteps across Europe, Israel, and the U.S. In spite of enormous obstacles, she turned up a lot of Friedmann’s artistic output from before and after the war, helped by historians. She found many of the published sketches of classical musicians in now-defunct newspapers and magazines, where they first appeared. The Deutsches Haus display will include reproductions and one surviving original drawing that first were collected for an exhibition devoted to Friedmann at the Berlin Philharmonic’s home in Berlin three years ago.
Deutsches Haus has also organized two additional events for the exhibition:
-- Tuesday, Feb. 21, beginning at 6:30 p.m., a film evening ("The Reichsorchester") will focus on the role of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra during the Nazi era, with a discussion with members of the Orchestra.
-- Friday, Feb. 24, starting at 6:30 pm, Miriam Friedman Morris will engage in a conversation with two Friedmann experts from Berlin, Detlef Lorenz and Helge Gruenewald, on her father's work and life.
Media wishing to cover the exhibition should contact Robert Polner of the New York University press office at 212.998.2337 or firstname.lastname@example.org.