As Adolf Hitler tightened his control over Europe in early 1939, Jews living inside Nazi Germany and Austria were increasingly desperate to escape. But restrictive immigration policies in effect in the United States made it all but impossible for more than a handful to find freedom here. Gilbert and Eleanor Kraus, a Jewish couple from Philadelphia, were determined to do what they could to help bring a group of children into the safety of America. Against all odds, the couple came up with a rescue plan aimed at bringing 50 Jewish children out of Vienna and into the safety of the United States. This documentary film tells a dramatic story that has never been told before – how one courageous couple saved the lives of 50 children on the eve of the Holocaust.
Joseph Martin Kraus, the German-born Swedish composer who was an almost exact contemporary of Mozart, is primarily known as a late classical symphonist of extraordinary importance, and heretofore this is where recording of his output has been concentrated. On Bis' Joseph Martin Kraus: The Complete Piano Music, pianist Ronald Brautigam comes to terms with the slim amount of keyboard music that belongs to Kraus, a cycle previously addressed on Naxos by pianist Jacques Després on a modern instrument. On the Bis, Brautigam uses a reproduced Walther & Sohn fortepiano built by Paul McNulty, an 1802 instrument that has a sound almost indistinguishable from that of a modern piano, except for its more limited range and shorter decay time. This seems to suit Kraus' keyboard music, which is rich in ideas but spindly in texture, a bit better than a modern instrument. Likewise, Després interpretations of Kraus' music sound read through at times and betray a sense of less than complete familiarity. This is not a challenge for Brautigam, who clearly knows, and loves, these willful and eccentric pieces of Kraus.
From the Notes: Both the artists on these discs made their mark early on the musical scene. At the age of 17 Lili Kraus graduated with the highest honours from the Academy of Music in her native Budapest [where Kodály and Bartók had been among her teachers] and went on to study with Schnabel at the Vienna Conservatory, where, only three years later, she was appointed professor. Willi Boskovsky [her junior by four years] at the age of 17 won the Kreisler Prize at the Vienna Academy, where he became professor at 25. He was already a member of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, but in 1939, at the early age of 30, he was appointed one of that prestigious body's concertmasters, and remained in that post for 32 years. … Meanwhile Lili Kraus had toured the world in the early 1930's, gaining a considerable reputation as an interpreter of the Viennese classics from Haydn to Schubert….