1934 Concert Notice -- Leipzig Jewish Community newspaper
Anna & Hirsch 1935-36 Leipzig Kulturbund subscription book
(for Exhibit details click here)
Anna Burstein (b. 1908 Kishinev Romania) and Halina Neuman (b. 1908 Lodz Poland) met in 1926 at the Leipzig Conservatory. After graduating they began concert careers and married emigré “East Jews” who settled in Leipzig. Their lives changed when Adolf Hitler came to power January 1933. After that the young mothers fought to balance careers and threats to family livelihoods while the Nazi net tightened. Within three years Jews would be legally barred from nearly all German economic, political and social life.
The Judischer Kulturbund
The Kulturbund was approved by the Nazis July 1933. In 1934 and 1936 Anna and Halina performed two-piano concerts at the Kulturbund’s Leipzig branch.
Two Pianos follows these talented women before, through and past World War II as they navigate crises and borders to forge new careers and lives.
By 1938 Anna is in Tel Aviv performing on the Palestine Broadcasting System. Halina is in Salzburg Austria playing Mozart at the famed Mozarteum—months before she's forcibly deported from Germany to Poland with thousands of other legally-resident Polish-born Jews.
In July 1938 Anna arrives in Philadelphia, among thousands of exiles who flee the Third Reich to enrich their new American home. For 15 years she performs at local venues. In 1945 she joins the Settlement Music School piano faculty, where she teaches for four decades.
Halina does not reach America until 1951. Three months later she gives her first American concert. She retires as a piano professor at Rutgers University-Newark.