Movement 5: Life in Hiding
The days here are very quiet,
having to sit still all day
and not say a word,
you can imagine how
hard that is for me.
On ordin’ry days, we speak in a whisper.
Not being able to talk is worse.
The silence makes me so nervous,
but the chiming of the Westertoren clock
reassures me at night.
You no doubt want to hear
what I think of life in hiding?
The blue sky, the bare chestnut tree,
glistening with dew,
the seagulls, glinting with silve
swooping through the air.
As long as this exists,
this sunshine and this cloudless sky,
how can I be sad?
Prospectus and Guide to the Secret Annexe.
A Unique Facility for the Temporary Accommodation of Jews and Other
Now our Annexe has truly become a secret,
a bookcase has been built in front of the entrance.
It swings on its hinges
and opens like a door.
It is Open All Year Round,
Located in Beautiful, Quiet, Wooded Surroundings,
In the Heart of Amsterdam.
Inside it is necessary to Speak Softly at all times,
Singing is Permissible, only Softly and After Six pm!
The strangest things happen when you’re in hiding.
Try to picture this.
We wash ourselves in a tin tub,
since the curtains are drawn,
we scrub ourselves in the dark,
while one looks out the window
and gazes at the endlessly amusing people.
The children run around in thin shirts
and wooden clogs.
They have no coats, no socks,
no caps and no one to help them
Gnawing on a carrot to still their hunger,
they walk from their cold houses through cold streets.
One day this terrible war will be over,
and we’ll be people again,
and not just Jews.
What do does it mean “to go into hiding”? Listen to Anne Frank’s description and experience the house and “secret annex.” Is that what you expected? Why or why not?
Theme in other Musical Examples:
Of Mice and Men – Space Enough To Grow:
RED – Already Over Pt. II:
Frank Ticheli – Angles in the Architecture:
Matt Kearny – Breathe In Breathe Out:
Do you think circumstances were different for other families in hiding during this time? Why or why not? What does it mean to you to “be a person”? What do you think it meant to the survivors and victims of the Holocaust after reading the text of this movement?
Examining the Theme and Historical Context through the Text/Music:
With the beginning of the movement, a very solemn and longing tone is set in the opening triads of GM and F#-A-C#. Be on the look out for the repetition of the first eight bars in the piano – they are an important motif throughout the movement. The piano’s line is soft and light, resembling quiet footsteps on a wooden floor, careful not to make a sound. The soprano lightly rests above this motif as it repeats, creating tension and release in the leaps of her lines, emulating the constant tension and fear in the hearts of those who are hidden. And when the chorus emerges very softly in a tiptoeing manner on a Gm chord, the music gives the listener a feeling of settling down and relaxing. But as soon as that feeling appears, it is gone once again when the piano returns in GM, creating an unsettled feeling compared to the Gm chord in the chorus. When the soprano begins once again, she takes her time to enter, singing of the pain of not speaking, of the silence that is so nerve wracking. But the piano motif then takes on a different character once the soprano sings in unison about the reassurance of a chiming clock at night. The piano emulates the chiming of a clock, repeating itself six times.
In the next section, the waltz, there is a very theatrical feeling to the soprano’s lines, almost as if one was spinning on a carousel. There is emphasis on certain characteristics of these beautiful scenes – the color blue, the bare chestnut tree, the glistening of dew, etc. And when the chamber group comes in, they echo back what the soprano was singing, almost as if to not forget the feelings that such images evoke of the outside world. This entire section is almost as if the soprano is trying to convince herself that she cannot be sad that such beautiful things exist in the world. She sings repeatedly, “as long as this exists, the sunshine and this cloudless sky, how, how can I be sad?” Then the soprano chorus repeats the line “as long as this exists, the sunshine and this cloudless sky” over and over, as if hoping to convince oneself that one must focus on the positives in the world. The final response from the soprano is questioning rather than asking how she could feel sad. The line begins to modulate upwards but stops very suddenly and returns to the main key, as if the soprano is accepting her fate.
The following section (in spoken word) is directly pulled from Anne Frank’s diary. This is where Anne describes the location where her family is hiding. Within her diary, Anne describes the schedule of everyday life almost as if it were a school, everything planned and having its place. It could almost be compared to that of an advertisement.
In the liberamente, the soprano enters on a neutral syllable “under the breath” because “singing is permissible, only softly and after 6pm!” In the next section, the same sort of playful style is continued, in thanks to the dotted eighth sixteenth rhythm and the text revolves around the light idea of washing oneself in a tin tub in the dark. But once the text shifts to talk of “children running around in thin shirts and wooden clogs,” the mood immediately changes and the chamber orchestra enters with sustained chords. The female sections of the chorus enter first in a lament, revealing that those who are outside are in a worst state without coats, socks, caps, and any help. The rest of the chorus joins in to offer another picture of what life is like outside their “secret annex.”
This last portion of the movement is the only section that really has reoccurring text: “we’ll be people again, not just Jews.” There is a constant repetition of this line that insinuates a desperate need to believe that the situation will improve itself. The whirlwind of the carousel comes back in a much more frenzied fashion, alternating between all the chamber instruments, and in the background of the voices. At this point, the chamber orchestra echoes the new motif, which is first stated at m. 245 in the lower voices then fully stated at U1 (m. 269) in the sopranos.
Connecting Concepts and Context:
Rwanda has three different ethnic groups: the Hutu (largest population), the Tutsi, and the Twa. During Rwanda’s colonial period, under the control of Belgium, the Tutsi clan was most favored and the rest of the people were oppressed and neglected. By 1961, an uprising of dominantly Hutu people had forced out many Tutsi clans. The Tutsi monarch in power was uprooted and Rwanda became an official republic as declared by Belgium in July, 1962.
A Hutu general was put into power, creating a new political party, the National Revolutionary Movement for Development. But when his plane was shot down a couple of years later (the culprit is still unknown), within an hour of the incident the Presidential Guard and Hutu military forces fell down on the Tutsi and even the Hutu people, placing roadblocks and barricades to keep anyone from escaping. From April to July in 1994, nearly 800,000 people in Rwanda were brutally murdered, a majority from the Tutsi clans.
Those that could flee went to refugee camps that unfortunately did not have the best of conditions. Adults and children passed away every day from disease and malnutrition. There were also many who thought that none of this could be possible, that they would be spared. But in the end, the militia came and took their food, their belongings, and many lives.
The Rwandan people were in a very similar position to the Jewish population and other nationalities that suffered in WWII. They were no longer “people” in the eyes of their government. What were the similarities of the people? Differences? Are there any other instances in history that have taken away the humanity in humans?