Identity is personal; it can also have wider implications. Through my story and by bringing to light the long history of conversion and assimilation behind the Mischlinge (a derogatory Nazi term for those neither fully Jewish nor fully Aryan), before, during and after the Holocaust, I hope to inspire reflection and tolerance. In my StoryCorps interview, above, you can hear my story in my words. My personal history and my experiences of my family's history are the starting point for this performance project.
The Mischlinge Exposé is a many-layered multimedia performance centering around my family's history and my personal experience with Judaism. The program features the music of German-Jewish-born composers Felix Mendelssohn, Arnold Schoenberg, Alexander Zemlinsky, and Hanns Eisler. The works contextualize video and audio testimony of my father, Horace J. Enger, and my godmother, Rosemarie Steinfeld's, experiences in Germany after the Nuremberg Laws were passed (both were labeled "Mischling, Grade A," by the Nazis). Readings of text by Rahel Varnhagen and Heinrich Heine, both converts to Christianity who felt deeply conflicted after their conversion, show the turmoil that may have made its way into the music. Works by contemporary Israeli composers Paul Ben-Haim and Lior Navok offer a glimpse of Israel, where my father's fully Jewish cousin emigrated during the war to escape Germany. Through the lens of historical context and the artistic and poetic testimony of prominent converts, the performance traces my family story of conversion from Judaism to Christianity and back to Judaism.
Bringing the project into the present day, I am thrilled to be commissioning a new 20-minute work from acclaimed composer Bruce Adolphe. Bruce's piece will bring the emotional landscape of my family's wartime experiences to life in the context of pre-war German Jewish culture, serving as the second generation to the pieces included in the project. It may sound like a private subject, but from the personal comes the universal. I hope that by setting one family's story to music, this new work will offer a space for each listener to explore, finding room for their own stories of exclusion and inclusion, hardship and homecoming.
The Mischlinge Exposé is available as a live performance, a presentation with recorded music and video, and an interactive talk. I am interested in meeting with audiences on college campuses, students at JCCs and high schools with Holocaust Studies and Tolerance programs. For a list of more than ten past and upcoming performances, please consult my concert calendar: www.carolynenger.com/calendar.html
A projector and screen, to display video in one of two ways: 1) a DVD player with connection to a stereo sound system or 2) an HDMI/lightning bolt connection from an Apple laptop to the projector and 1/8 inch cable connected to the stereo sound system. Carolyn performs on piano as the video and audio testimony play on the projector screen and sound system.
"I first met Carolyn Enger when I was preparing in 2012 for the Jewish Community Center (JCC), in Tenafly, New Jersey, an artifact exhibit of first-hand documents dealing with the Holocaust, and added her unusual and touching personal story to the exhibit... I can only hope and pray that she will receive all the support needed (financial and otherwise) to bring this moving project into fruition."
Dr. Mordecai Paldiel
Formerly, director of the Righteous Among the Nations Dept., at Yad Vashem, and currently teaching the Holocaust at Yeshiva University-Stern College and Touro College, New York.
The program includes music by Felix Mendelssohn, Alexander Zemlinsky, Arnold Schoenberg, and Hanns Eisler. In this playlist I have included pieces that resonate with the themes of the project.
In addition, I am excited to announce that I have commissioned a new piece for the project: a 20 minute solo piano work by Bruce Adolphe! Listen to an interview with myself and Bruce on Rachel Katz's WWFM radio show, A Tempo, to find out more about the piece!
Carolyn Enger Biography
Carolyn Enger Biography
Pianist Carolyn Enger has gained critical acclaim for her lyrical and dynamic playing, her deeply felt interpretations of works from Beethoven and Schubert to contemporary music, and her warm personal approach. In addition to an active performance schedule, Ms. Enger has enjoyed remarkable success as a recording artist, particularly with her 2013 release of piano music by Ned Rorem on Naxos Records. Renowned critic Laurence Vittes wrote in his review for Gramophone (2/2014): “Enger raises the miniatures to a higher level by taking the time and care to capture the emotional impact each must have had when their dedicatees read their inscription and title, and then heard the music for the first time.” The album was selected as one of the “Best in Classical Recordings” by The New York Times:
Among the 90th-birthday tributes this year to the essential American composer Ned Rorem, this recording especially stands out. The fine pianist Carolyn Enger plays Mr. Rorem’s complete Piano Album I, published in 2003, a collection of tender yet pungent miniatures written for friends, intimates and personal occasions from 1978 to 2001. - Anthony Tommasini, 12/2013
Highlights of Ms. Enger's 2016/17 season include a performance at Michaelis Kirche in Erfurt, Germany; a Chicago residency with recitals at several Steinway Galleries, the Chicago Public Library and a Masterclass broadcast on WFMT; performances at the National Gallery of Art in Oslo, Norway; the Jewish Heritage Museum of Monmouth County in New Jersey; the Chelmsford Center for the Arts in Massachusetts; Chicago Theological Seminary's Center for Jewish, Christian and Islamic Studies, a Texas residency with recitals at the San Antonio and Austin Steinway Galleries; and a variety of recitals in the Tri-State area. Ms. Enger will present her ambitious multimedia concert experience, The Mischlinge Expose, at community centers throughout New York and New Jersey, and will premiere a new work written by the acclaimed composer Bruce Adolphe especially for this project.
With a keen sense of history and identity, Ms. Enger views music in the context of the unfolding of human affairs, past and present, leading her to design programs that relate the music she performs to the times in which it was composed. Currently these interests have stirred Ms. Enger to plan a multimedia concert program set in the World War II period, combining music, literature and images that focus on the haunting memories of the lives of Mischlinge – half-Jews – in Germany before, during, and after the Holocaust, an experience reflected in Ms. Enger’s own family history. The Mischlinge project will be presented in spring 2016 in New York City.
An active recitalist with engagements throughout the United States and beyond, Ms. Enger has performed at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center’s Bruno Walter Auditorium, Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts, The National Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Design Museum, Cathedral of St. John the Divine, Nantucket Musical Arts Society, The Kosciuszko Foundation, and the Tenri Cultural Institute. A recent collaboration with renowned illustrator and writer Maira Kalman featured Ms. Enger’s playing as part of“Maira Kalman Selects”, an exhibition curated by Ms. Kalman at the Cooper-Hewitt Museum in New York. Ms. Enger’s dedication to bringing music to new audiences has motivated her to perform in accessible civic spaces such as Israel’s Bet Yad Lebanim in Nahariya, the Felicja Blumental Music Center in Tel Aviv and, in New York City, at St. Peter’s Church and the Donnell Library Center. Ms. Enger’s community engagement performances have left presenters and audiences, in the words of Cheryl Wylen, Program Director, of the Backstage at the Y Concert Series, “in complete awe of her passion, skill and genuine warmth.”
Ms. Enger has a special gift for creating original and intriguing programs that range from European masterworks to fresh discoveries among the compositions of such innovative American and Israeli composers as Ned Rorem, Lowell Liebermann, Betty Olivero, Avner Dorman and Lior Navok. Her debut album, In Evening Air, released in 2009, offers a refreshing mix of music by Beethoven, Scriabin, Hanson, Copland, Liebermann and Ned Rorem – all attesting to her command of a wide variety of musical idioms.MusicWeb International lauded her playing as “thoughtful and sensitive… expressive… She plays with fine nuance and tone shading. (10/2010)” And from Fanfare came praise for“Enger’s dynamic control and emotional sensitivity, her keen sense of timing and proportion. (9/2009)”
Ms. Enger is a Steinway Concert Artist.
Mischlinge Expose Bibliography
Mischlinge Expose Bibliography
Numerous articles from Leo Baeck Institute Year Books
Interviews with Mordechai Paldiel, Fritz Stern, Elie Wiesel
“…How lucky are we, as a people, that Carolyn Enger did not allow herself to be driven from Judaism by one person’s extremely insensitive comment. What a joy to learn that a woman of such spirit, determination and talent has joined the tribes and become a beacon of light for us and the nations. And how wonderful to contemplate that one of her brothers, also a convert, is the father of a daughter named Charlotte, after her Jewish great-grandmother. Dos pintele Yid continues to burn and enlighten the world.…” —Barbara Wind
See the full profile on JewishLinkNJ.com
“Concert pianist Carolyn Enger of Englewood, whose recording of Ned Rorem’s “Piano Music” was one of the New York Times’ favorite classical recordings of 2013, has created a unique performance piece that combines music, film, art, and literature with the audiovisual testimony and original artworks of her late father, Horace (Horst) J. Enger, and her godmother, Rosemarie Steinfeld of Tenafly.” —Abigail Klein Leichman, The Jewish Standard