A child's cry from Izieu
a lament for violin and piano

Oskar Morawetz
Composition Date: 1987
Genre: Strings (bowed), + Keyboard, Violin


Instrumentation Set Number 1:
  • 1 x Piano
  • 1 x Violin
Click here to download full work (9.67 Mb - Not printable)

Programme Note:
Among the countless tragedies of the Holocaust of Jews during the Nazi regime it would be impossible to single out any one in particular, especially as most of the victims disappeared in gas chambers without any trace. No one will ever know the terrible fears and horrors these people experienced before their deaths.

Personally, I feel that one of the most cruel and heartbreaking incidents of World War II was the fate of 41 orphans in the French village of Izieu in the vicinity of Lyon. These children, aged three to thirteen, lived in the Jewish children's home at Izieu until August 4th, 1944, when they were arrested on the orders of Klaus Barbie, the Nazi commander of Lyon. They were deported to the death camp of Oświęcim (Auschwitz). None of the children survived. One can only hope that their lives ended in a gas chamber rather than by being thrown alive into the flames of ovens, a method often used by camp commanders when children were involved.

Klaus Barbie, who was called by the French people. "The butcher of Lyon", because of his pleasure in watching the torture and executions of his many victims, had only one regret about his heinous crime in Izieu. He found it unfortunate that no money or other valuables could be found when his hangmen searched the children's home after their deportation.

In May of 1987, the month of Barbie's trial, a particularly moving document came to light. It was a letter written hastily to God by the eleven year old Liliane Gerenstein before she was taken from Izieu on the road that led to the gas chambers.
She wrote:
It is thanks to you that I enjoyed a wonderful life before, that I was spoiled, that I had lovely things that others do not have. God? Bring back my parents, my poor parents, protect them (even more than myself) so that I may see them again as soon as possible. Have them come back one more time. Oh! I can say that I have had such a good mother, and such a good father! I have such faith in You that I thank You in advance."

After reading these lines, I could not help thinking back to my own childhood when I was Liliane's age. My teachers of religion came back to my mind; those who taught us the importance of faith and prayer, especially in times of danger and complete isolation. Therefore I cannot help thinking that Liliane Gerenstein prayed not only before her forced departure from Izieu, but also during her long trip in the dark cattle trains to her final destination; and I imagine that she was still praying for the safety of her parents even when she was aware that the last moments of her young life had arrived.

When I was reading Liliane's prayer and her desperate cry, the opening bars of this composition came to my mind. They are followed by feelings of fear, pain and sorrow. A dramatic, dynamic climax before the end of this work brings back, with even greater force and emotion, the hopeless cry of the beginning. Gradually, the music concludes in a mood of quiet, distant sadness, disappearing into eternity.
Introduction by the composer (from the score)


  • Call Number:
  • MI 3211 M831chi 1987
  • Genre:
  • Strings (bowed), + Keyboard, Violin
  • Date of Acquisition:
  • April 22, 2005
  • Type:
  • Print-music, Published by CMC
  • Physical Description:
  • 1 score (19 p.) + 1 part (9 p.) ; 28 cm.
    19 Pages
    Height: 28 cm
    Width: 22 cm
    Parts page count: 9
  • Additional Information:
  • For violin and piano.
    Ms. (photocopy); master of score in CMC Toronto.
    No violin part deposited at CMC.
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A child's cry from Izieu a lament for violin and piano by Oskar Morawetz (Score and Parts)
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A Child's Cry from Izieu a Lament for Violin and Piano: Score
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A child's cry from Izieu a lament for violin and piano by Oskar Morawetz (Score)
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A child's cry from Izieu a lament for violin and piano
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