Aug 31, 2012
By Jane Brown
He’s 99 years old and he still plays the piano every day. For decades, Leo Spellman was a featured player on the CBC, and his orchestra played posh Toronto hotels.
Now the long forgotten rhapsody he composed about his experiences during the Holocaust is about to get its Canadian debut. Leo Spellman composed the piece in a displaced persons camp in Germany after the war. It was buried in a box in his garage for more than 50 years until the 2002 movie “The Pianist” revived the memory. It’s first public performance was at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. 9 years ago. On Labour Day Monday, it will be featured at the Ashkenaz Festival at Harbourfront. Our own Libby Znaimer spoke with Leo Spellman at his Toronto home about the music in his Rhapsody, ” The sadness, what we went through, what I saw, killing people. I saw hills of people, and some were still alive, moaning.” “In this music,” he says, “you can hear it.”
Leo Spellman plans to be at the Canadian premiere of his Rhapsody on Monday September 3rd at Harbourfront’s Enwave Theatre. Listen for Libby’s full converation with the 99 year old composer on the New AM 740’s Zoomer Week in Review Sunday September 2nd at noon.