The 69th anniversary of the State of Israel was marked on Tuesday evening, at the Romanian Athenaeum, by a Violins of Hope concert – a project whose main purpose is the recovery and reconditioning of musical instruments which belonged to Jewish artists, victims of the Holocaust.
Members of the accredited Romanian Diplomatic Corps, Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu, Minister Delegate for European Affairs, Ana Birchall, Justice Minister Tudorel Toader, and Romanian Attorney General Augustin Lazar were among those attending the event.
On this occasion, Israel’s Ambassador to Romania, Tamar Samash talked about the close relation between the two states.
Romania’s attitude towards the State of Israel has always been a friendly, collaborative one, she said, recalling famous names of the Jewish community in Romania, which in the past numbered about 800,000 people, and now is counting “a few thousand” – Elie Wiesel, Marcel Iancu, Tristan Tzara.
The diplomat also appreciated the recently concluded Romanian Presidency of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) and the work of Ambassador Mihnea Constantinescu in this respect.
“This concert has an educational dimension that evokes the past and the sacrifice, she added.
In his turn, Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu underscored in the opening speech that Violins of Hope brings to mind the memory of suffering, but also a token of hope. The minister also spoke about the significance of the instruments included in Tuesday’s concert.
Amnon Weinstein, the founder of Violins of Hope, has been restoring violins for 20 years, violins having been played on by Jewish musicians during the Holocaust.
My life’s mission was to save these violins, he confessed, adding that musical instruments not only remind us of the past, but also make us remember that such acts should never happen again. He paid tribute to the community of Jews in Romania, which was so important for music and art, and he described the beginnings of his relationship with the violins, recalling his father, who was in love with these instruments. Amnon Weinstein recollected with humor his father’s answer when asked why he preferred the violin: It’s a tool that’s easy to get into one’s arms and run away with.
The founder of the Violins of Hope said he has a no-sale collection of violins – violins recovered from the snow, played in Auschwitz, violins from Romania, from Transnistria, Poland, Germany or Austria.
The schedule of the anniversary concert included works by Max Bruch and Felix Mendelssohn. The pianist Andrei Licaret performed in the show, alongside the musicians of the Violins of Hope.
“Violins of Hope”, an exhibition-event at the National Art Museum of Romania
On April 26, 2017, in the Foyer of the Throne Hall from the National Art Museum of Romania (MNAR), eight historical violins having an inestimable value will be exposed, being part of the private collection of the famous Amnon Weinstein, one of the most respected violin creators in the world.
Weinstein has restored and collected violins with exciting stories who belonged to Jewish musicians, survivors of the Holocaust, as is the case of the eight instruments exhibited in Bucharest. In the exhibition, violins are accompanied by the stories of their former owners, thus sending a powerful message about the tragedy of the human experiences during the Second World War. All the violins are fully functional and they have been used in concerts performed in Jerusalem, Paris, Madrid, London, New York, Rome or Oslo.
The project entitled Violins of Hope started in 1996 and it is dedicated to over 400 of Weinstein’s relatives who died in Eastern Europe during the Holocaust.
The exhibition Violins of Hope is organized by the National Art Museum of Romania (MNAR) together with the Musical Society and is supported exclusively by Jaguar Land Rover.
The exhibition will be open for the public on April 26, from 10.00 to 15.00. Access is free.