Discovering Karol Rathaus

Forgotten casualties of the Holocaust: Karol Rathaus, a prominent composer of concert and film music, is forced into exile from Nazi Germany and fights for his creative survival in the atmosphere of cultural and political hostility.


Who is Karol Rathaus and why we are making this film

Composer Karol Rathaus (1895, Ternopol, Galicia – 1954, Flushing, New York) belongs to the generation that came of age in the aftermath of WWI, the generation decimated by the Nazis and WWII. With his music performed by such luminaries as Wilhelm Furtwängler and Erich Kleiber, he was on his way to becoming one of its leading voices. The rise of Nazism interrupted Rathaus’s ascend to the musical Olympus – he had to leave Germany and after several years of wondering through Paris and London, he found a new permanent home in Queens, New York. Choosing safety and obscurity, he accepted  the position of first composition professor at  the recently formed  small urban Queens College.

Karol Rathaus shall rightfully be viewed as an unrecognized and unacknowledged casualty of the Holocaust. Uprooted from his native soil and uncertain of his  ethnic and cultural  identity, he lost his fight for  creative survival in an increasingly hostile cultural and political environment. 

Maestro Leon Botstein in an interview with the producer of "Discovering Karol Rathaus"

Promo/Demo Reel 

This is the latest teaser for the film emphasizing Rathaus’ struggles. In this reel you see and hear voices of student musicians of The Orchestra Now (TON), the president of  Bard college   and the principal conductor of TON Maestro Leon Botstein, one of Rathaus’ students  George Sturm, a historian  Henry Feingold, and Rathaus’ daughter-in-law June Rathaus.


The team behind the film

 Michael Haas


Michael Haas is an award winning recording and executive producer who worked with major music labels such as Decca, Sony, Deutsche Grammophon, etc. His most highly regarded work has been in the recovery of music lost during the Nazi era in Europe, including London/Decca’s recording series Entartete Musik of works thought lost, forgotten or destroyed. After publishing book “Forbidden Music: Music of Jewish Composers Banned by the Nazis” he was invited to become a senior researcher at the Zentrum of Vienna  University for Music and Performance Arts. 


Daniil and Sergei Deych


Daniil and Sergey Deych are two brothers, one of whom (Daniil) is an up and coming filmmaker  and the other (Sergei) is a classically trained pianist. After Daniil came back home from Vancouver, where he attended Vancouver Film School, the Deyches teamed up and formed a film production company specializing in classical music videos. Daniil (with Sergei help) also wrote, produced and directed his first short film “Untitled”, which he submitted to a number of festivals.

Film features
Maestro Leon Botstein

Music Director and Principal Conductor of American Symphony Orchestra  and The Orchestra Now of Bard College, a scholar,  and an expert in the history of European music. President of Bard College,

Photo by Matt Dine

Pianist Alexandra Hałat

Polish Pianist, Chamber musician,  Adjunct Assistant Professor at University of Silesia. Alexandra founded Karol Rathaus Ensemble, dedicated to promotion of Karol Rathaus’ music, and Karol Rathaus Foundation in Poland. 

Frank Harders-Wuthenow

Promotion Executve at Boosey and Hawkes, the largest specialist classical music publishing company in the world. Boosey and Hawkes published a large number of Karol Rathaus’ compositions, with Frank Harders being one of Rathaus’ major champions. 

Samuel Adler

Samuel Adler is one of the most distinguished American composers of the 20th and 21st centuries, recipient of numerous awards including the Charles Ives Award, the Lillian Fairchild Award, and a Special Citation by the American Foundation of Music Clubs (2001).

Photo by Jack Mitchell


Karol Rathaus on world wide web

Karol Rathaus in his own words and the words of others

Maestro Leon Botstein

We like to see the people whom we can understand easily. Rathaus is extremely hard to understand – a wonderful composer but he does not fit into a neat category.

Maestro Leon Botstein, in an interview for Discovering Karol Rathaus

Bernard Herrmann

The music of the Karamazoff (written by Rathaus) is one of the most imaginative achievements in sound films

Bernard Herrmann, an American film composer

Bernard Rathaus

Hitler killed composer Karol Rathaus

Bernard Rathaus, composer's son

Jasha Horenstein

My problem is that of the independent and individual composer. I have no embassies that stand behind me, no propaganda machine; in the country where I live very happily, I’m considered a non-native

Karol Rathaus, from the letter to conductor Jascha Horenstein

Robert K. Schwarz

A new CD devoted entirely to Rathaus’s music reveals a composer of stature possessed of enormous skill and personality: a man whose name might be known today had his career not been disrupted at its moment of greatest promise.

Robert K. Schwarz, New York Times, March 8, 1988










Preserving the memory. Restoring the legacy.