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I was frustrated because I loved Mendelssohn.
I wanted to play this piece and I wasn't allowed to so I stole the music from a friend and I went to the communal bathroom, I locked myself in there and I started playing and it probably sounded terrible but it was the beginning of my love affair with Mendelssohn's music and to this day when I play that piece I still think back to those memories.
You also think back very very profoundly to the memories of your ancestral home to Germany.
You play a lot of music.
You're determined to keep the spirit alive and also to keep those silenced Jewish composers alive.
Those who the Nazis tried to silence and fast forward to Kaddish which is the great mourning song for the death.
Yes. It's one that you play often.
This is by Maurice Ravel and you also I believe played it for Menuhin at his deathbed.
Not at his deathbed but his final concert in fact was in Dusseldorf in 1999 just a few days before he died very suddenly.
And I played it as an encore after we played together as a gesture because I grew up on his recording of the piece.
In fact it was the last time I saw him.
And so it in hindsight became my own personal Requiem or Kaddish for him.
And ever since then I've played it many times at very different occasions the Bundestag in Germany for example or to remember people in Thomas Mann's house in the film.
We were lucky enough to get in there before it was sold--the German writer. Yes just to remember certain moments in history, Kristallnacht the Night of Broken Glass.
I've helped organize concerts in Germany to remember that and often the Kaddish is a piece that I choose to to share on those occasions.
You said it's my personal Kaddish playing playing this and what would you did for Yehudi Menuhin.
Do you feel Jewish.
I feel like a big mixture.
I'm Jewish Catholic Anglican European.
Because of course I ask that because you your family were Christians but of Jewish descent and you have dedicated so much of your professional life to to keeping the spirit of of great Jewish art and Judaism alive.
I feel an incredibly strong connection to that heritage and my mother's side.
You know it goes back to the first rabbi of Potsdam so it's inescapable in that sense and I am very proud of it but also the Irish Catholic side let's say there's a lot of guilt in our family if you go back far enough.
Funnily enough that comes from that from the Jewish grandmother.
What do I know.
Would you like to play Kaddish for us.
I'd love to. [MUSIC PLAYING]
About This Episode EXPAND
Christiane Amanpour sits down with astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and violinist Daniel Hope. Walter Isaacson speaks with Damian Woetzel, president of The Juilliard School.LEARN MORE