Anita, 90 today, plays her cello on a new Auschwitz documentary

Anita, 90 today, plays her cello on a new Auschwitz documentary


norman lebrecht

July 17, 2015

Happy 90th birthday to Anita-Lasker-Wallfisch, a cellist at the heart of London’s orchestral life for half a century.

A survivor of Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen, Anita took up her cello again earlier this year to play on the soundtrack of a Holocaust documentary composed by her grandson, Benjamin Wallfisch.

The educational video has been screened in the US, but is not yet apparently available elsewhere.

See clips here.


From the US press release:

A woman whose talent at playing the cello helped spare her life at the Auschwitz death camp has picked up her instrument for the first time in more than a decade to score a new documentary being made for the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Poland.

Anita Lasker-Wallfisch recorded a cello solo for a 15-minute documentary called “Auschwitz,” that recounts the long history of the infamous Nazi German death camp located in Poland. The film was directed by Academy Award® winning documentarian James Molland produced by  Steven Spielberg in conjunction with USC Shoah Foundation – The Institute for Visual History and Education.

Lasker-Wallfisch’s grandson, award-winning Hollywood composer Benjamin Wallfisch, composed the original score for the film.  Renowned composer Hans Zimmer produced the score and brought Wallfisch to the project.

When Zimmer initially tapped Wallfisch for the film, he was aware that Wallfisch’s grandmother had played cello when imprisoned at Auschwitz.  Later, after multiple conversations about Lasker-Wallfisch and speculation about whether she might still be able to play, Zimmer, Wallfisch and Moll began to see the bigger picture, and considered the possibility of inviting her to participate.  After conversations with her family, Lasker-Wallfisch agreed to lend her talent to the score.  Throughout her lifetime as a musician she had always been a perfectionist, so the idea of playing without practicing for over a decade was unthinkable.  But once the recording began, the result was staggering.  Her gentle tone and musical gift was as present as ever.

Taking it even a step further, Anita’s son Raphael Wallfisch, himself a celebrated solo cellist, also agreed to play on the film score, involving three generations of a family that survived Auschwitz.  As the film’s narrator Meryl Streep recites in the final moments of the film, “While the humanity of any one person can be extinguished, humanity itself cannot be. It endures.”



  • TonyF says:

    Many, many happy returns Anita.

    I remember you since I was in my teens at school, because we would meet at Parents’ Evenings when you attended for your son and my contemporary Raphael. I remember you when you played in the English Chamber Orchestra and were always so friendly and encouraging to a young upstart in recording.

    Have a wonderful day.

  • Malcolm Kottler says:

    This is the link you need in order to see the 15 minute documentary on Auschwitz, in which Anita Lasker plays her cello on the soundtrack.

  • esfir ross says:

    I saw Anita in documentary “Loving Wagner” where she told that music of Richard Wagner wasn’t played by orchestra in Aushwitz, not enough musicians.

  • Tony says:

    Dear Anita,
    Many Happy Returns!
    Tony Halstead

  • Lucina Maestro says:

    Mrs. Anita Lasker-Wallfisch , I do not know your music but as soon as this film comes out I will buy it Thank you for still be here to teach us that part of your life that is still painfull for you but most of all thank you for not letting the hate the horror of a racist destroy your Human Spirit and your Music sincerely, Lucina Maestro.

  • Tony Chidell says:

    Many many happy returns Anita.

    Thanks for being such a good friend especially during the years we worked in the ECO together. All those tours!