My name is Rebecca Casey and I teach at Ohio Northern University, School of Visual and Performing Arts, in Ada, OH, USA. I was awarded a full sabbatical leave for this fall semester to research Czech Jewish pianist Prof. Bern(h)ard Kaff.
Kaff was born in Brno, in what was then Czechoslovakia, on May 14, 1905. He was a famous concert pianist who was respected throughout Europe in the mid-late 1920’s and throughout the 1930’s prior to his imprisonment in Terezin in 1941. Kaff was a prisoner in Terezin from 1941-1944. He was then deported from Terezin to Auschwitz on one of the big transports on October 16 of 1944 and was gassed at Auschwitz on Oct. 17, 1944.
By all accounts, Kaff was a superior solo and collaborative pianist, playing with many chamber groups and as piano soloist and accompanist for many people and venues in Austria and CZ. He did not compose any music, however; instead, he was solely a performer and a teacher, so his legacy has been neglected. He did edit one piece written for him, but other than that, there are no compositions.
I am searching for any source or archive that might hold historical recordings that include Prof. Bernard (Bernhard) Kaff on piano. They would of course be under classical music, as Kaff specialized in Chopin, Liszt, Beethoven, Liszt, Franck, Schumann, Brahms, and J.S. Bach and also was renowned for performing and premiering contemporary classical piano works of the time. He was active as concert pianist from about 1924 to about 1939, as far as I have been able to determine. After the Nazis prohibited all Jews from performing in public (theatre, concerts, etc.) there seems to be no information from 1939-1941. (Kaff did give several concerts in Terezin that are fairly well documented.)
Kaff was broadcast by Radio Vienna throughout Europe, he was listed in Radiojournal from 1936-1939 in several performances that were broadcast from Prague or Brno, and he had a concert pianist career with performances and tours in Vienna, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, the Netherlands (Holland), Germany, and France prior to WWII. I have found over 200 concert announcements and broadcast announcements for concerts in which Kaff performed listed in a plethora of Austrian newspapers and a few Czech papers in the Austrian National Library. It seems that someone, somewhere, must have recorded a performance that still exists. I am told by US musicologists that there are none, but I believe that I just need to get to the right expert or archive. I have written to the Czech Radio archives and other archives in Germany and Vienna, too many to list here, with no luck.
Thank you for any assistance that you can provide. If you cannot help, could you please provide any other names or organizations which I may contact?
My best, Rebecca
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Dr. Rebecca L. Casey, N.C.T.M.
Associate Professor of Music
Head of Keyboard Studies
Ohio Northern University
School of Visual & Performing Arts
Ada, OH 45810