Press Releases

Refugee composers rediscovered in a concert presented by Elysium Between Two Continents

November 3, 2022

Elysium Between Two Continents commemorates the 100th anniversary of the International Society for Contemporary Music by featuring the forgotten works of composers forced into exile in a concert presented under the auspices of American baritone Thomas Hampson.

Read the press release here:

Käthe Leichter Honored on the 80th Anniversary of Her Death
Social Justice Activist and Feminist Käthe Leichter Honored on the 80th Anniversary of Her Death in a Musical Literary Collage by Elysium Between Two Continents

February 22, 2022

Elysium Between Two Continents will present an evening of readings and music in honor of the prominent socialist feminist Käthe Leichter at the Austrian Cultural Forum of New York on March 16, 2022 at 7:30 PM.
Leichter, a Social Democratic politician, labor organizer, and author, was the first Austrian woman to receive a doctorate in national economics. In 1921, Käthe married another left-wing activist, Otto Leichter, and until 1934, played active roles in the socialist government, and thereafter, the socialist underground in Austria. After the Anschluss of Austria to Nazi Germany in 1938, her husband and sons managed to escape to Switzerland and then the United States, but Käthe was arrested and eventually murdered by the Nazis 80 years ago in 1942.
Elysium Artistic Director Gregorij von Leïtis will read selections from the diary of Käthe’s husband, Otto, as he wrote her letters she would never receive during her internment at the Ravensbrück concentration camp. Jeannie Im, a longtime performer with Elysium, will read memoirs and letters by Käthe.
Soprano Alexis Rodda and pianist Dan Franklin Smith will present songs from Vally Weigl and her husband, Karl Weigl. Vally Weigl, née Pick, was Käthe’s sister, and with her husband Karl, found refuge from the Nazis in the United States, and composed dozens of art songs until her death in 1982.
The program was conceived by Elysium Program Director Michael Lahr von Leïtis, and presents a portrait of a courageous woman who remained true to her ideals until the end. This musico-literary collage will commemorate the anniversary of her untimely death 80 years ago, and celebrate her accomplishments as a leader for social justice.
Admission is free, but RSVP is required. To RSVP, please email with your name and number of tickets desired.

Elysium Between Two Continents to Present a Concert of Forgotten Music by Egon Lustgarten
Elysium Between Two Continents to Present a Concert of Forgotten Music by Exiled Composer Egon Lustgarten

September 16, 2021

Elysium Between Two Continents will present a performance at the Austrian Cultural Center on October 7, 2021 at 7:30 PM entitled: Healing a Fractured World: The Music of Egon Lustgarten. Lustgarten, a central musical figure in early 20th century Vienna, composed dozens of musical works that are largely unknown today. His opera, Dante im Exil (Dante in Exile), was called “the best opera of the 20th century” by conductor Joseph Krips, and his compositional brilliance was well-recognized by his contemporaries. However, Lustgarten struggled both financially and professionally after he was forced to emigrate to New York City in 1938, and he never achieved the same artistic status as he had once held in Vienna.
The performance will commemorate the 60th anniversary of Lustgarten’s death; he was born in 1887 and died at the age of 74 in 1961. Elysium will present several world premieres, in addition to many rarely-heard song selections. To complement the musical performances, literary material from letters, lectures, and other biographical sources will be read by Artistic Director Gregorij von Leïtis. The spoken text will interweave with the musical selections to tell Lustgarten’s story as a refugee to the United States, and the struggles he faced rebuilding his life in a new country.
Dan Franklin Smith (“an incredibly sensitive player with a beautiful tone…”) will play piano, while soprano Alexis Rodda (“a lovely voice, full of color and body in every register…”) and baritone Wil Kellerman (“superb… a promising voice”) will sing.
Gregorij von Leïtis, the founder and Artistic Director of Elysium Between Two Continents, was the first non-American to win the New York Theatre Club Prize in 1985 and has been hailed as “an ambassador of Jewish culture.”
Gregorij von Leïtis and Elysium Executive Director Michael Lahr von Leïtis have been at the forefront of rediscovering Lustgarten’s work, producing the world premiere of Dante im Exil in 2005, and Are There Miracles? There Are Only Miracles! a concert of Lustgarten’s music in 2016. Elysium Between Two Continent’s mission is to foster artistic exchange, creative dialogue, and mutual friendship between the United States and Europe, while fighting against discrimination, racism, and anti-Semitism by means of art.
Soprano Alexis Rodda, who has been an ensemble member of Elysium since 2012, began researching Lustgarten in 2015 and is currently working on the first biography of the composer, as well as a critical edition score of his fairy tale opera, The Blue Mountain. She conducted research in Lustgarten’s estate, held at the Lahr von Leïtis Academy and Archive, while on a Fulbright scholarship from 2019 to 2020.
The evening was curated in collaboration between Elysium Executive Director Michael Lahr von Leïtis, Artistic Director Gregorij von Leïtis, and Alexis Rodda.
Healing a Fractured World: The Music of Egon Lustgarten will be held at the Austrian Cultural Forum at 11 East 52nd Street, New York, New York on October 7, 2021 at 7:30 PM.
As per the New York City Covid-19 Executive Order 225, proof of vaccination, as well as an I.D., will be required upon entry. Proof of vaccination may include a CDC Vaccination Card, an NYC Vaccination Record, NYC Covid Safe App, Excelsior Pass, or an official immunization record from outside NYC or the U.S., showing proof of receipt of at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine authorized for emergency use or licensed for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or authorized for emergency use by the World Health Organization.

The 34th annual Erwin Piscator Awards Ceremony to be held in Munich on August 27, 2021

August 10, 2021

The 34th Annual Erwin Piscator Awards Ceremony will be held in Munich on August 27, 2021. The Erwin Piscator Award Society was founded in 1985 by Gregorij von Leïtis, in order to honor and commemorate Erwin Piscator, a theater pioneer with a lasting legacy both in the United States and in countries across Europe. The Erwin Piscator Award is presented in association with Elysium Between Two Continents, a nonprofit organization that fosters mutual understanding between the United States in Europe through theatrical, musical, and literary-based educational programs.
The Erwin Piscator Award has, for its entire history, been presented in New York City. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it will be unprecedentedly presented in Munich, Germany.
Three awards will be presented at the ceremony to be held in Munich on August 27, 2021. The Erwin Piscator Award of 2021 will go to Alhierd Bacharevič, a Belarusian writer and translator, considered the leading Belarusian-language author of novels, including Magpie on the Gallows, Šabany: The Story of One Disappearance, Alindarka’s Children, and White Fly, Murderer of Men. A 900-page novel entitled Dogs of Europe was published in 2017 and received the Belarus Book of the Year Award. In April 2021, the new edition of Dogs of Europe came under scrutiny by the Belarusian government as they tightened laws around protesting and “extremism.” He currently holds the “Writer-in-Exile” fellowship at the Internationales Haus der Autorinnen und Autoren Graz. The presentation of the Erwin Piscator Award to Bacharevič is particularly fitting in that Piscator also found himself exiled from his home country because of his artistic and political ideas.
“It is highly topical that Alhierd Bacharevič, the recipient of the Piscator Award 2021, and Erwin Piscator share the same fate: both had to flee their respective homelands because they opposed the repressive regimes in Lukashenko’s Belarus and Nazi Germany, and were persecuted by the country’s rulers,” says Michael Lahr von Leïtis, Program Director and Associate Artistic Director of Elysium Between Two Continents.
The Erwin Piscator Honorary Award of 2021, presented in memoriam of Maria Ley Piscator, will go to Dr. h.c. Irène and Prof. Dr. phil. h.c. mult. Erich Lejeune. They will be honored for their lifelong philanthropic efforts, including their foundation and support of Heart for Heart – Foundation for Life, which enables heart operations and other diagnostic procedures for impoverished children in countries such as Vietnam and South Africa. Dr. phil. h.c. mult. Erich Lejeune also founded and sponsored the Erich Lejeune Chair for Philosophy and Motivation at the Munich School of Philosophy.
The Erwin Piscator Life Achievement Award will go to Hansjörg Utzerath, a theater director with a storied career in theaters across Germany. He was the co-founder of the Düsseldorfer Kammerspiele, which he headed as director from 1959 to 1966. From 1966/67 to 1973, Utzerath served as director of the Freie Volksbühne Berlin, succeeding Erwin Piscator himself. He was also director of the Schauspielhaus Nuremberg, and has worked at a number of other German theaters as a freelance director, including the Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus and the Schauspielhaus Zürichs.
Each recipient is chosen for their embodiment of the legacy of Erwin Piscator, who said, “Art only achieves its purpose when it contributes to the improvement of man.”
“Throughout his life, Piscator used the platform of the theater to speak out against the destructive forces of fascism. In recent years we have seen a rise in authoritarian rule in Europe and around the world. In this current political climate it is more important than ever to remember Piscator and the lasting legacy of his political theater,” says Gregorij von Leïtis.
The Erwin Piscator Awards Committee includes singers, theater makers, philanthropists, and other luminaries of the arts, including actress Ellen Burstyn, singer Thomas Hampson, Unter den Linden opera house Director Matthias Schulz, theater director Bartlett Sher, Salzburg Music Festival President Dr. Helga Rabl-Stadler, and many more.

Scroll to Top