The Nazis Couldn’t Destroy This Joyful Concerto

Decades after the musical sheets were buried for safekeeping, the lost treasure is acclaimed at its performance.

Violinist Janusz Wawrowski brings to life a lost World War II–era concerto whose music sheets had been buried by its composer before fleeing the Nazis.Cezary Aszkiełowicz/Szczecin Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra

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When the Nazis were advancing toward his home, composer Ludomir Różycki stuffed the pages of his violin concerto in a suitcase and buried it in his yard in Warsaw, Poland, before fleeing. His home was destroyed near the end of World War II, and he died in 1953 without knowing the fate of his concerto.

But his composition was unearthed by builders after the war. Poland’s top classical violinist discovered it in the archives of the national library, and after years of work, the upbeat piece—reminiscent of Gershwin in places—was performed recently to great acclaim in the northwest Polish city of Szczecin, the Guardian reported.

Violinist Janusz Wawrowski, who brought it to life onstage, tried to channel the hopeful exuberance of the work and of the once-prominent Różycki. “To me it’s full of the energy and life of Warsaw before the war,” Wawrowski said, “and I think he was trying to conjure and convey this positive energy as he wrote it in 1944 in a very dark time, as the artillery of the Nazis rained down on the city.”

Różycki’s relatives were stunned upon hearing the concerto. “It’s like getting to know my great-grandfather for the first time,” said Ewa Wyszogrodzka, an economist. “To think, these pieces might have been lost forever.”

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I’ll leave you with this image from the Pacific Crest Trail in California, courtesy of the Bureau of Land Management’s Twitter feed. Thanks for reading, and happy trails.

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