The Widdershins

Posts Tagged ‘world war ii


Happy Friday Widdershins!

If you are reading this then good news: a nuclear was hasn’t started yet! But it is early, so we’ll see how things play out.

This morning I won’t bore you with my thoughts on Dump and whatever the latest shitnado he has unleashed on the world. There is so much happening and it’s happening so quickly that sometimes the brain feels like it will short circuit. So we will stay current on the news in the comments section, as always. If Dump launches a nuke at North Korea or California, please post here ASAP!

Instead I will tell you about a nearly forgotten artist. I listen to classical music almost exclusively and I have not heard of Maryla Jonas until just a week ago when Sony released a remastered box set of Jonas’ complete recordings made for Columbia in the 1940s and 50s. Granted, her recorded legacy was not big, only a bit over 3 hours of music. But it’s amazing how an such an important artist of her day could be so nearly forgotten, even though at the time famed critics like Virgil Thompson and Edward Downes counted her among the greats.

Maryla Jonas was born on May 31, 1911 in Warsaw, Poland. She became something of a child prodigy at the piano and though her father had serious misgivings about his daughter having a successful career as a musician, she did make her concert debut at the age of 9. At the age of 11 she was accepted to study at the Warsaw Conservatory. Over the years she studied with the famous pianist and composer Ignacy Jan Paderewski.

‘When I was no more than seventeen. I played a Ballade of Chopin for [Paderewski], and he said, very calmly and quietly, more pedal here—less pedal there—there, more tone—there, more speed. Such things. Also, he took my music and marked everything down in red pencil. Good! I went home and studied hard everything he had said. Like a parrot.

‘Then I went for a concert to Denmark. I played this Ballade, exactly as Paderewski had said. Well, a friend of his who was there, said it was no good! He told Paderewski I had played it no good. So the next time I came to Paderewski, he asked me what I did to play so badly, and told me to sit down and play the Ballade for him. I did, exactly as he had said. And this time he too said it was no good! I said he himself had told me all this, and he said, ‘No, that was impossible!’ I showed him his own red writing on the music, and again he said, ‘No!’ At that time, I was heartbroken. But today, I see exactly what Paderewski meant! He meant that the first time, he was in a mood to want the Ballade one way, and the next time, not. That is all. But it showed me that teaching can never be a matter of do-this or do-that’. (“The Etude”, February 1947, interviewed by Rose Heylbut).

When she was eighteen , Miss Jonas says an incident happened in her life which, more than anything else, influenced her subsequent career. ‘I had finished playing a whole program for Paderewski and he took me to the window and pointing, he said: “You see that street over there? You see how it winds down into that alley? It looks sordid, doesn’t it. Well, there is life. Go out and find out for yourself. Live an experience and come back to me in a year. You’ll be a better pianist”.

Throughout the 20s and 30s she toured across Europe, including recitals at the Salzburg Festival and Bayreuth. She married a famous Polish criminologist. And then Germany invaded Poland. Her husband and three brothers joined the underground resistance. Her sister, who had married a Viennese Jew, fled to Brazil. Jonas and her parents’ home was requisitioned by the Germans, so they spent months moving from shelter to shelter. They were eventually arrested and after an interrogation by the Gestapo Jonas was offered to be sent to Berlin if she would join the Nazi party and become an official Nazi artist. Jonas refused. She and her parents were sent to a concentration camp.

After several months in camps, a German officer recognized Jonas as a pianist he had heard perform before the war. He arranged to have her released from the camp and advised that she go to Berlin and appeal to the Brazilian embassy for safety. Jonas walked from Warsaw to Berlin: about 321 miles. She slept in barnes and under the moon, eating only scraps that she could find. Finally in Berlin the Brazilian embassy arranged to smuggle her out of the country on false papers, pretending to be the wife the ambassador’s son.

Jonas joined her sister in Rio, but her health had very seriously deteriorated from the long and arduous journey from Warsaw to Berlin. She then received news that her parents, her husband and one of her brothers had been killed in Poland and she suffered a nervous breakdown. She spent several months in various sanatoriums in Brazil. She decided that she would never play the piano again, but at the encouragement of her sister and a chance visit to Rio in 1940 by one of the most famous pianists in the world, Artur Rubinstein, changed her mind.

He had known Maryla in Warsaw, and called on her. He urged her eloquently to resume playing. He told her she was now a representative of Poland. It was her duty, he said, to keep reminding the world that her country had stood for something, and to work and earn money to help rescue other Poles from their Nazi-dominated homeland. She agreed with every word. But she could not play.

Rubinstein was rehearsing for several recitals he was to give in Rio and asked Jonas to come to the theater to offer him advise. At the theater he said he wasn’t sure what the img041_a_200dpi.jpgacoustics of the hall were like, so he asked Jonas to play while he walked to the back of the auditorium to sound-check. Jonas obliged… and found herself musically reborn. She decided to start playing again and within few months was giving recitals across South America. In 1946 she came to the United States and on February 25 gave a recital at Carnegie Hall. That seems to have been a very lightly attended show (someone joked the ushers outnumbered the audience), but a glowing review from the highly regarded Jerome D. Bohm of Herald Tribune: “the finest woman pianist since Teresa Carreno” he wrote. He continued that on her next appearance Jonas “will be greeted not by a handful of listeners . . . but by the sold-out house which such artistry as hers deserves.” Five weeks later her second Carnegie Hall recital was sold out. Olin Downes of the New York Times wrote that “The shimmer of the harmonies, the haunting song that they half revealed and half concealed, was something to remember.” Soon Jonas was engaged to play a Beethoven concerto with the New York Philharmonic. Sold out concerts and glowing reviews, and a record deal with Columbia followed. Jonas also married a surgeon.

During a Carnegie Hall recital on January 27, 1951 she got sick.

Persons familiar with the Schumann work [Carnaval] sensed that something was wrong when some passages were skipped. They were puzzled when the pianist got up after a gentle number about two thirds of the way through. She walked unsteadily to the left side of the stage and just beyond the edge of the dusty-rose curtain she fell.

… Miss Jonas had not been feeling well all week, according to her representative, so her physician, Dr. Franz Groezel, and her husband, Dr. Ernest Abraham, both were in the auditorium. They went back-stage to attend her and ten minutes later John Totten, manager of the hall, emerged from the stage door to say she would continue the program.

The pianist returned to the stage looking white and shaky, but once she was seated she seemed all right. She played the Nocturne, the Waltz, the Berceuse and two of the four Mazurkas she had scheduled. She also managed two encores, though the last one was given with the house lights on as a hint to the audience not to expect a third.


In 1952 Jonas was stricken with a rare blood disease and put her concert career on hold. She was bedridden for two years. She returned to Carnegie Hall on December 1, 1956. It seems that physically she was no longer able to play well. Edward Downes of the New York Times wrote:

The Andante cantabile of the middle movement was an achievement of rare artistry. But toward the end of the sonata Miss Jonas began to sound nervous. As the Mozart group progressed there were moments of exquisite lyricism, but they became rarer as one sensed that Miss Jonas’ strength was ebbing under physical and nervous strain.


Friends who inquired backstage after the program were told that a physician was attending Miss Jonas. Later it was announced that she was not ill but suffered only severe nervous tension.

This was Maryla Jones’ last concert. She died on July 3, 1959. (Her husband, Dr. Ernest Abraham, was an amateur cellist and encouraged his wife’s career. He died a few weeks after her.)



Good Saturday to you Widdershins.  I hope today finds you well.  For the picture above I googled “late summer pictures” and the one above came up.  While it may indeed be a garden since I see a statue in there, it does seem to be one that’s possibly run amok if you ask me.  Perhaps it’s just my city-slicker background but I do like to see a path of some sort when I see something like this.

A portion of history that needs to be saved

I had this bookmarked to write up for a Saturday light post but then I bookmarked it by mistake in the wrong location.  This article is from July.

There is a factory (or former one) in Ypsilanti Township Michigan where the original Rosie the Riveter worked.  And it is going to be demolished if nothing is done to attempt to save it.

The Willow Run Bomber Plant, a 332-acre former Ford Motor Co. factory west of Detroit that churned out nearly 9,000 B-24 Liberator bombers during World War II, is slated to be torn down unless a group can raise $3.5 million by Thursday to convert at least some of the structure into a new, expanded home for the nearby Yankee Air Museum.

Of course there were tons of women who filled the jobs previously held by men before the war, (this article says more than 40,000) but it was at this plant in Michigan that a woman “riveter” got the attention of a film crew there to make a short film about women in the war effort.

Rose Will Monroe, a Kentucky native who moved to Michigan during the war, starred as herself in the film and became one of the best-known figures of that era. She represented the thousands of Rosies who took factory jobs making munitions, weaponry and other things while the nation’s men were off fighting in Europe and the Pacific.

Naturally (??) when the war was over the women were let go when the men returned and the plant went back to manufacturing cars until it was closed by General Motors in 2010.

B-17 Liberator

B-17G “Yankee Lady”

Larry Doe is a 70 year old resident of Ypsilanti who is working to try to save the plant.

“The younger generation needs to know what people went through and be able to go and see what they did and how they did it for our country,” Larry Doe, a 70-year-old Ypsilanti Township resident who has given to the cause, said recently before joining other donors for a trip on a B-17.

Organizers of the plan to save the factory say they have secured around $4.5 million of the estimated 8 million dollars they need.  What they want to do is to acquire part of the 5 million sq. foot plant, secure it and get utility services going.  The Yankee Air Museum say they hope they can tap into some of that “Rosie resolve” to complete their fundraising.  The organizers have a website up and you can check it out.


Could you call it a little “oopsie”?

The Federal Reserve, besides being the organization that bailed out the banks by lending money to the banks at something like 0.3 to 0.5 percent while they purchased T Notes which will yield 2.1 percent (I kid you not, see below**) is at again along with the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.  (I know this is badly written, but it’s late)

**In another period, JPMorgan Chase, the second-largest bank, swelled its holdings of taxpayer-backed federal debt by $20 billion, which yielded 2.1 percent, while at the same time borrowing $29 billion from the Fed at a rate of 0.3 percent.

Anyway…this same group is apparently no better at making money (literally making the bills) than they are at helping out the economy outside of the big banks.  It seems they have been planning to introduce  a new one hundred dollar bill.  You know, because the old ones are wearing out and we all carry so many of them at one time, they are wearing out from the friction of the Benjamins rubbing against each other in our wallets…no not really.   It was intended to be a more “secure” bill due to several additions to the bills.   “It will have a Liberty Bell that changes color, a new hidden message on Ben Franklin’s collar, and tiny 3-D images that move when you tilt the bill this way or that.”  Well, this got screwed up too.  According to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, the latest runs of the new bills have suffered from “mashing”.  “When too much ink is applied to the paper, the lines of the artwork aren’t as crisp as they should be, like when a kid tries to carefully color inside the lines—using watercolors and a fat paintbrush.”  (This is clearly unacceptable as the one percenters want nice, crisp, neat one hundred dollar bills.)

This time, recent batches of cash from the Washington, D.C., plant contained “clearly unacceptable” bills intermixed with passable ones, according to a July memo to employees from Larry Felix, the bureau’s director. So the Fed is returning more than thirty million hundred-dollar notes and demanding its money back, Felix wrote. Another thirty billion dollars’ worth of paper sits in limbo awaiting examination, and Fed officials have informed the bureau that they will not accept any hundred-dollar notes made at the Washington, D.C., facility until further notice.

I guess the idea of using fifties or twenties would be too difficult for those 1 percenters since their wallets would have unseemly bulges from the stacks of bills and God forbid, don’t even mention tens or fives.  🙄

Now Mr. Felix of the good ole Bureau of Engraving and Printing said that, alas, it was an “internal quality control” issue and that “internal quality-control measures should have prevented the bureau ‘from delivering defective work,’ and that those responsible would be held accountable.  Now when a bureaucrat (literally a bureaucrat from the Bureau of whatever) says that, you are indeed in deep doo-doo.  So Mr. Felix has ordered the other money factory in Ft. Worth to double up on its efforts at producing those brand-spanking new Benjamins because “There are dire consequences involved here because BEP sells Federal Reserve notes to the Board to finance our entire operation,” he wrote in the memo. “If the BEP does not meet the order, the BEP does not get paid.”      pray

There will however, be costs to the taxpayers to “fix” this:

Taxpayers will have to pay to inspect, correct, produce, transport, and secure all the additional money that will replace the botched notes. Disposing of the bad bills? That’s on taxpayers, too, as are the additional hours spent making up for the mistake by employees of the bureau.

I saw this and I wanted to die

Well not really, I wanted to LMAO.  Now y’all know I am an LSU Tigers fan.  And along with that goes a certain amount of  dislike for the University of Alabama football team.  It’s not because Nick Saban is there but was at LSU first, because he left LSU to go bomb as the head coach of the Dolphins and then went to Bama.  It’s not because they beat us in the National Championship game because they did play a helluva lot better than LSU.  No, it’s because their fans are crude, rude and classless as I wrote in my first guest post here at TW.  So you can imagine my delight and feelings of schadenfreude and just outright glee when I saw that the current Miss Alabama (who goes to Bama) was going to wear this thing at the Miss America Pageant.  She intends to wear this for the “Show us your shoes” parade on the Boardwalk at Atlantic City.

Miss-Ala-dress for Miss America pagent

And speaking of shoes, she’s’ got those too:

Miss Alabama's shoesThe little hat in the pic is supposed to be representative of Nick Saban’s hat that he wears at practice.  The houndstooth fabric is a “tribute?” to the late Bear Bryant of Alabama who always wore a houndstooth hat at the Bama games.  In honor of that Bama fans even today will wear houndstooth anything.  The poor man died in 1983 and they still won’t let him rest.

Oh and I dearly loved this from an article on about the dress:

“I knew it was going to be wonderful, and Chandler was the same way,” she said. “I was so excited and so overcome…when we left Ann’s that day that was all we could talk about all the way home.”

The buzz the dress caused when it was picked up by national news outlets shocked both her and Champion, Teninbaum said.

“It’s exciting,” she said. “We’re just overwhelmed that people are taking this much interest in because it was special to Chandler. I’m just glad that so many people think it’s special also.”

Oh I thought it was special too.  I thought it was sooo special I did this:

iQvkpG5 - lmao

Lastly, since I was talking about the Boardwalk above, how bout a little Boardwalk Empire music?  And let me know in the comments how your day is going.  This is an open thread.

Now I won’t be around much today because SEC football games start off at 11:00 a.m. central time and the last ones start at 6:00 p.m. Central time, but I’ll try to come by inbetween games.

Never Forget

Never Forget

As we head into Memorial Day, a day when we should remember the horror and devastation that war inflicts upon both the victors and the defeated, my mind turns to World War II, and the terror, tragedy and ultimate triumph of the Allies over pure evil.

And yet, there seems to be a determined effort by our corporate media, our President, and the American left to minimize or obscure one of the great lessons learned in that war: Anti-Semitism, when allowed to flourish unchallenged, can lead to catastrophe. 

Take the recently-foiled terrorist plot against the temple and community center in Riverdale (a temple in which I’ve sung many services, by the way). Riverdale, for those who do not know New York City, is in the Bronx – an area north of Manhattan, with no national monuments or landmarks to be seen. It is a largely Jewish area, and quite wealthy in some parts. Simply put, there could be no other interpretation for the reason behind this planned attack except for anti-Semitism. (It’s not as if they were going after the Brooklyn Bridge.)

And yet, when the attack made it to the 11:00 local news, the lead-in was something like this:

“New York City was the target of a terrorist plot once again…”

New York City was the target? Since when are a temple and community center in Riverdale synonymous with New York City?

This is not just political correctness from the corporate media. It is deliberate obscuring of the truth.

Read the rest of this entry »

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