Past Events

Friday, November 25, 2022 at 5.00 pm
Kulturvolk / Freie Volksbühne Berlin
Ruhrstraße 6 | 10709 Germany

 

Erwin and Maria Piscator: Political Theater in Exile
Exhibition opening
The exhibition will be on display until the end of January 2023
Opening Hours: Monday and Thursday from 10 am until 6 pm; Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 am until 4 pm.

Curated by Michael Lahr, the exhibition documents the innovative work of Erwin Piscator, the founder of political and epic theater, through letters, photographs, posters and program slips.

After sensational productions in 1920s Berlin, Piscator went to the Soviet Union in the early 1930s to make a film. After the Nazis seized power, he found exile in New York. There he founded the Dramatic Workshop at the New School. A whole generation of famous American actors and playwrights – including Harry Belafonte, Marlon Brando, Judith Malina, Tony Randall, Elaine Stritch and Tennessee Williams – were influenced by Piscator's school. In 1951, under pressure from McCarthy's anti-Communist smear campaign, he returned to Germany.

Piscator was not only a great theater artist, but he made his mark in dark times through his life: his passion for militant art forms that challenged the status quo was not slowed by political persecution from the Nazis. Bertolt Brecht once said, "Piscator is the greatest theater man of all time. He will leave a legacy that we should use."

Presented by Kulturvolk / Freie Volksbühne Berlin
in cooperation with Elysium – between two continents and The Lahr von Leitis Academy & Archive

 

Thursday, November 17, 2022 at 7.00 pm
Künstlerhaus München

Lenbachplatz 8 | D-80333 Munich | Germany

 

"One must not hate!"Women's voices from Theresienstadt

The pianist Alice Herz-Sommer and the poet Ilse Weber were deported to the Theresienstadt ghetto and concentration camp in 1942. Alice Herz-Sommer survived the Holocaust, Ilse Weber was murdered in Auschwitz with a group of children she cared for. Their testimony exhorts us to solidarity and humanity.

Reading with the Bavarian state actress Christine Ostermayer.

An event of the Künstlerhaus Munich
In cooperation with Elysium – between two continents and The Lahr von Leitis Academy & Archive.

 

Thursday, November 3, 2022 at 7.00 pm
Austrian Cultural Forum New York

11 East 52nd Street | New York, NY 10022 | USA

 

Innovators in Exile
100 Years International Society for New Music
Under the auspices of Thomas Hampson

In August 1922, composers from all over the world gathered in Salzburg to present their innovative musical works in a three-day festival. At the end of this avant-garde festival, which was held under the patronage of Richard Strauss, the International Society for New Music was founded, which still exists today. Of the German and Austrian composers present at the time, eight had to emigrate to escape religious and political persecution by the Nazis: Egon Wellesz fled to England, Wilhelm Grosz, Paul Hindemith, Hugo Kauder, Egon Lustgarten, Paul A. Pisk, Rudolf Reti and Karl Weigl went to the USA. Only a few of these promising composers managed to regain their footing financially and professionally in exile. 100 years later, we want to remember these unjustly forgotten composers.

This evening is the kick-off event for a three-day festival that will also feature chamber music works by these composers next April.

Concept: Michael Lahr and Alexis Rodda
Directed by Jeannie Im
Intoduction: Michael Lahr
Sopranos: Alexis Rodda and Jeannie Im
Baritone: Bryan Murray
Piano: Dan Franklin Smith

Presented by the Austrian Cultural Forum New York
in cooperation with Elysium – between two continents and The Lahr von Leitis Academy & Archive

Reservations can be made via email (events@acfny.org) or phone (+1-212-319-5300).

Thursday, October 13, 2022 at 6.30 pm

Leo Baeck Institute New York
Center for Jewish History
15 West 16th Street | New York, NY 10011 | USA

 

Lew Nussimbaum aka Essad Bey aka Kurban Said
Cosmopolitan – Wanderer between worlds – Jewish Muslim – Orientalist in Exile
Under the auspices of Rabbi Dr. Ismar Schorsch

In his short life, the writer Lev Nussimbaum (1905 - 1942) came into contact with all the currents of the early 20th century: Communism, Fascism and National Socialism.
Fleeing from Baku before the October Revolution, he converted from Judaism to Islam in Berlin in 1922 and changed his name to Essad Bey. He soon began to write, especially for Willy Haas's Die literarische Welt. His first book, Oil and Blood in the Orient, immediately became a bestseller. In rapid succession he published thirteen more books, including biographies of Mohammed, Stalin, and Nicholas II. He fled from the Nazis to Vienna, and finally after the Anschluss to Italy, where he died of a rare disease in Positano in 1942.

Concept & Introduction: Michael Lahr
Gregorij H. von Leitis reads from the phantastic works of Lew Nussimbaum

Presented by the Leo Baeck Institute New York
in cooperation with Elysium – between two continents and The Lahr von Leitis Academy & Archive

 

 

Tickets available in advance at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/lew-nussimbaum-aka-essad-bey-tickets-408088502697

Saturday, October 1, 2022 at 7.00 pm
Exilarte Center at the mdw University for Music and Performing Arts
Lothringer Straße 18 | 1030 Vienna | Austria

 

Within the framework of the “ORF – Long Night of Musuems”

Campaigning for Women’s Rights – Fighting against Fascism
Remembering social scientist and union organizer Käthe Leichter 80 years after her murder by the Nazis
under the patronage of Franz Leichter, former State Senator of New York, and Ulrike Sych, President of the University for Music and Performing Arts Vienna

Born in 1895, Käthe Leichter was one of the first Austrian women to get a doctorate in national economics. She worked as an educator of working-class children and later committed her energy to the emancipation of female workers.

When the Austro-Fascists banned the Social Democrats in 1934, Käthe and her husband Otto Leichter fled to Switzerland with their two sons. Soon they returned to Austria to organize the underground union movement. After the "Anschluss" in March 1938, Otto Leichter fled again. Käthe stayed and was arrested soon. Both sons could escape. While Käthe was in prison, her husband kept a diary writing letters to his wife that were never sent. At the end of 1939, Käthe Leichter was deported to the Ravensbrück concentration camp. On March 17, 1942 she was gassed.

Käthe’s and Otto’s writings are testimony to Käthe’s courage and determination. Selections of music by Käthe’s sister Vally Weigl and her husband Karl complement the reading.

Concept & Introduction: Michael Lahr
The Bavarian State Actress Christine Ostermayer will read Käthe Leichter’s texts.
Gregorij H. von Leitis narrates the letters and diary entries of Otto Leichter.
Soprano Josipa Bainac and Pianist David Hausknecht will perform songs by Karl and Vally Weigl.

Presented by the Exilarte Center
in cooperation with Elysium – between two continents and The Lahr von Leitis Academy & Archive

Tickets available in advance until September 25, 2022 at https://tickets.ORF.at or at the participating museums and cultural institutions. On the day of the event, tickets are also available at the "Treffpunkt Museum".

Tuesday, June 14, 2022 at 6:00 p.m.

Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania
Charitéstrasse 9 | 10117 Berlin | Germany

 

Berlin greets Kaunas, the cultural capital of Europe 2022
We are the last, ask us out, we are responsible
In memory of the numerous Holocaust victims, who were murdered by the Nazis in the
IX Fort in Kaunas

The reading from the work of the German-Jewish exile writer Hans Sahl (1902 - 1993) presents memories of an eventful life between the continents, atmospheric images of a fate in emigration, and witty observations of a great contemporary witness of the Jewish intellectual exodus from Germany and Europe.

Critic Fritz J. Raddatz called Hans Sahl "a writer who is worth rediscovering, whose capacity for illuminating snapshots is unparalleled, a literary burning mirror grinder." In the burning mirror of Hans Sahl, a storyteller, playwright, chronicler, and lyricist, the historical events of the 20th century take on a new vividness. Tender, empathetic observations on human, all-too-human sides of his contemporaries alternate with cheerful, ironic character studies and philosophical meditations on the state of the world.

Born in Dresden in 1902, Hans Sahl studied art and literary history, archaeology and philosophy, and worked as a critic and journalist in Berlin in the 1920s. In 1933 he fled to Paris via Prague and Zurich, and finally participated with Varian Fry in the rescue operation in Marseille for intellectuals and artists who had fled to France from Hitler's henchmen before he himself escaped on one of the last ships from Lisbon to New York. Against the backdrop of this personal fate, Sahl's "Memoirs of a Moralist" take on a special poignancy.

Concept & Introduction: Michael Lahr
Reading: Gregorij H. von Leitis

Presented by the Lithuanian Embassy Berlin
in cooperation with Elysium – between two continents and The Lahr von Leitis Academy & Archive

Admission: free, afterwards the Lithuanian Embassy invites to a glass of wine

Monday, May 16, 2022 at 7.30 pm

Kulturvolk / Freie Volksbühne Berlin e.V.
Ruhrstraße 6 | 10709 Berlin | Germany

 

Lew Nussimbaum aka Essad Bey aka Kurban Said
Cosmopolitan – Wanderer between worlds – Jewish Muslim – Orientalist in Exile
Under the auspices of Rabbi Dr. Ismar Schorsch
Reading from his fantastic work

Born in Kiev, raised in Baku, Lev Nussimbaum fled to Berlin before the Russian Revolution, finally emigrated to Vienna to escape the Nazis, and then on to Italy after the Anschluss: in his short life this fascinating writer came into contact with all the currents of the early 20th century: Communism, National Socialism, and Fascism.

80 years ago, on August 27, 1942, the Oriental expert Essad Bey died in Positano, impoverished and lonely, of a rare disease. Only his Baltic-German nanny Alice Schulte was with him. She knew him from his earliest childhood. Essad Bey was born Lev Nussimbaum in Kiev on October 20, 1905. Lev's father was the wealthy Azerbaijani-based Jewish oil magnate Abraham Nussimbaum, Lev's mother was Berta Slutsky from Shklov (Belarus), related to the extensive Leites/Leitis clan through her aunt Olga Leites. While Lev's father made a fortune from the oil boom in Baku, his mother sympathized with the Bolshevik social revolutionaries and secretly supported the young Stalin. When Lev was just six years old, his mother commits suicide, possibly because she can no longer stand the contradictions of her own existence. Traumatized and ailing, young Lew withdraws and spends hours in his parents' library.

In 1918, when the October Revolution swept through Baku, father and son fled, first to Persia, then across the Caucasus to Istanbul, and from there to Berlin via Paris. Lev Nussimbaum attended the Russian exile high school and enrolled in Arabic and Turkish literature at the Humboldt University. In 1922 he converted to Islam.

In the Berlin literary scene he met Else Lasker-Schüler, Vladimir Nabokov and Boris Pasternak and soon began to write, especially for "Die literarische Welt" by Willy Haas. His first book, "Oil and Blood in the Orient," appeared in 1929 and immediately became a bestseller. In quick succession, he published 13 more books, including a biography of the Prophet Mohammed that is still recognized today, as well as biographies of Stalin, Lenin and Nicholas II. While some esteemed him as a proven expert on the Orient, others soon slandered him as a Jewish history swindler. The Islamic community in Berlin distanced itself from him. The Communists rejected his works criticizing the Soviet Union as undialectical and reactionary. Lev Nussimbaum, alias Essad Bey sits between all chairs. "Who is this Essad Bey?" asked Leon Trotsky in a letter in 1932.

In 1936, when he was already banned from publishing in Germany, Essad Bey published the novel "Ali and Nino" in Vienna under the pseudonym Kurban Said, a tragically ending love story between the descendant of a noble Muslim family from Azerbaijan and a Christian princess from Georgia, a Romeo and Juliet story set at the interface between Islam and Christianity.

When Vienna, too, no longer offered protection for the unmasked Essad Bey after the Anschluss, he fled to Italy. Lev Nussimbaum's father Abraham, left behind in Vienna, was deported and died in the Belzec extermination camp. Despite considerable pain, Essad Bey continued to write another novel, "The Man Who Knew Nothing About Love," until the end. When black limousines pulled up in front of Essad Bey's apartment in Positano at the end of August 1942, eyewitnesses believed the two men had come to pick him up and take him to a concentration camp. In truth, they were employees of the Italian Ministry of Propaganda who wanted to offer the "Muslim" a lucrative position.

Michael Lahr traces Lev Nussimbaum's unusual life in his introduction
Gregorij H. von Leitis reads from Nussimbaum's fantastic work

Presented by Kulturvolk / Freie Volksbühne Berlin e.V.
in cooperation with Elysium – between two continents and The Lahr von Leitis Academy & Archive

Admission: 18 €, 15 € (for members of Freie Volksbühne Berlin e.V.)

Tuesday, March 31, 2022 at 6.00 pm

1014 Space for Ideas
1014 Fifth Avenue | New York, NY 10028 | USA

 

Erwin Piscator’s Legacy Lives On.
Conversations about Theatre, Music and Politics
Book Talk followed by a reception

Bertolt Brecht said: “Piscator is the greatest theater man of all time. He will leave a legacy that we should use."

  • What is Piscator's legacy?
  • Are Piscator's ideas still valid today?
  • What significance do political and social issues have on stage today?
  • What is the relationship between arts and politics?

Michael Lahr explores these and similar questions in his book. His interview partners are 15 illustrious artists, all of them recipients of the Erwin Piscator Award, and Grgorij von Leitis, founder of the Piscator Award.
New York-based French photographer Letizia Mariotti did impressive portraits of all the interviewees: Lee Grant, Judith Malina, Robert Wilson, William Hoffman, Marshall Mason, Ellen Burstyn, Kurt Masur, Martina Arroyo, Thomas Hampson, André Bishop, Harold Prince, John Guare, Bartlett Sher, James Nicola, J.T. Rogers, Gregorij von Leitis

Presented by Elysium – between two continents and The Lahr von Leitis Academy & Archive in cooperation with 1014 Space for Ideas

 

 

Please R.S.V.P. by sending an e-mail to elysiumbtc@aol.com

Thursday, March 24, 2022 at 12.30 pm

Lotos Club
5 East 66th Street | New York, NY 10065 | USA

 

Star tenor receives Piscator Award certificate 2020

Two years ago, Piotr Beczala was to receive the 33rd Erwin Piscator Award at the Lotos Club in New York for his outstanding artistic achievements as one of the world's leading tenors and his authentic portrayal of every character he embodies on stage. The invitations had been sent out, the preparations were in full swing. But the outbreak of the Covid 19 foiled our plans. The awards ceremony had to be canceled.

On March 24, we finally can present the award certificate to Piotr Beczala during an exclusive luncheon with good friends and supporters of Elysium - between two continents at the Lotos Club.

Presented by the Erwin Piscator Award Society
in cooperation with Elysium – between two continents and The Lahr von Leitis Academy & Archive

By invitation only

Wednesday, March 16, 2022 at 7.30 pm

Austrian Cultural Forum New York
11 East 52nd Street | New York, NY 10022 | USA

 

Campaigning for Women’s Rights – Fighting against Fascism
Remembering social scientist and union organizer Käthe Leichter 80 years after her murder by the Nazis
Under the patronage of Franz Leichter, former State Senator of New York

Born in 1895, Käthe Leichter was one of the first Austrian women to get a doctorate in national economics. She worked as an educator of working-class children and later committed her energy to the emancipation of female workers.

When the Austro-Fascists banned the Social Democrats in 1934, Käthe and her husband Otto Leichter fled to Switzerland with their two sons. Soon they returned to Austria to organize the underground union movement. After the "Anschluss" in March 1938, Otto Leichter fled again. Käthe stayed and was arrested soon. Both sons could escape. While Käthe was in prison, her husband kept a diary writing letters to his wife that were never sent. At the end of 1939, Käthe Leichter was deported to the Ravensbrück concentration camp. On March 17, 1942 she was gassed.

Käthe’s and Otto’s writings are testimony to Käthe’s courage and determination. Selections of music by Käthe’s sister Vally Weigl and her husband Karl complement the reading.

Concept & Introduction: Michael Lahr
Jeannie Im will read Käthe Leichter’s texts.
Gregorij H. von Leitis narrates the letters and diary entries of Otto Leichter.
Soprano Alexis Rodda and Pianist Dan Franklin Smith will perform songs by Karl and Vally Weigl.

Presented by the Austrian Cultural Forum New York
in cooperation with Elysium – between two continents and The Lahr von Leitis Academy & Archive

Admission is free - but RSVP is required.

To RSVP please e-mail events@acfny.org with your name, number of tickets and name of the event you want to attend.

Thursday, January 27, 2022 at 6.30 pm

Künstlerhaus München
Lenbachplatz 8 | 80333 Munich | Germany

 

"The Price of Concord"
Lecture and reading on the occasion of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day
Under the patronage of Dr. Felix Klein, Germany’s Federal Government Commissioner for Jewish Life in Germany and the fight against anti-Semitism

The famous Lithuanian theater critic and historian Markas Petuchauskas survived the Vilnius ghetto. In his memoirs, he describes survival under Nazi occupation and Soviet rule in Lithuania and tells of people who remained people during the tragic events of the 20th century, under two occupation regimes.

A special feature of the Vilnius ghetto was the theater, which was created by the artists in a heroic feat of strength. Because of the theater, the ghetto became a spiritual and emotional focal point of resistance to the Nazis.

Markas Petuchauaskas’ memoirs are a call for reconciliation and a reminder to remember and learn from history.

Gregorij von Leitis, whose family itself comes from Lithuania, will read excerpts from Markas Petuchauskas' book.

Introduction: Michael Lahr

Presented by the Künstlerhaus München
in cooperation with Elysium – between two continents and The Lahr von Leitis Academy & Archive

 

Admission: € 10

Reduction for pupils, students and guests with severe disabilities upon presentation of ID.

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