Three songs on poems by

Paul Celan

performed by

Elza Zherebchuk 

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© photo: ÖNB-Bildarchiv

100 years ago, on November 23rd 1920 in Chernivtsi, a boy named Paul was born in a German-speaking Jewish family. Like many other representatives of that generation, he was about to live a difficult life. Despite this, he managed to become a poet. In 1947, he took a pseudonym, an anagram of his surname Ancel and since that moment he became a part of history as Celan. The birth of this word by breaking the last name and rearranging the syllables order, in a sense, reflects a number of things both in his artistic portrait and his fate. But by listing these things, one can easily miss something important. This significantly reflects the spirit of his poetry, which can only be explained by tons of research, number of which is growing each and every year.

I read his poetry book "Atemwende" at a time when life circumstances made me lose my breath. I did not know much about Celan, about his difficult life and complex poetry, but I really wanted to read more deeply. Naturally, there was no easier way to do this but try and write music on those verses. Later, a great occasion named Elsa came along. It was thanks to her that this cycle of three songs arose. In the process of its creating, I learned that the great poet died exactly 50 years ago, but in the coming November he would have turned 100 years old. Thus, it was clear to me that it would be the best time to show this music to my friends. "