Principles of Passacaglia: Terezín, Summer 1944
Hans Krása’s final work Passacaglia and Fugue was written in 1944 while he was interned in the Terezín ghetto near Prague. Composers in Terezín operated under a special set of circumstances, and over time it became imperative for them to use musical expression as a means of communicating specific aspects of their lives. For these musicians, the choice of form was fundamental to their achieving maximal expressive capacity. Why a mature, experienced composer such as Krása would choose to write what would become his final composition in passacaglia form is unknown, but it raises significant questions about how the inherent principles of the form such as repetition and simplicity allowed him to frame important existen- tial meditations that arose from his personal situation. This paper considers how characteristics of the passacaglia allowed Krása to respond musically to his experience, expressing literally and figuratively certain aspects of the camp such as facade, nostalgia and death.