From May 18 until May 25, Music of Remembrance will be streaming composer Jake Heggie and librettist Gene Scheer’s compelling musical drama about the persecution of gays during the Holocaust –
This is a topic that is too little known and too rarely discussed.
In 2007 Music of Remembrance commissioned composer Jake Heggie and librettist Gene Scheer to create the musical drama For a Look or a Touch. The work’s title refers to a provision in Paragraph 175 – the pre-Nazi German law criminalizing homosexuality – under which people could be arrested simply for an affectionate glance or an innocent caress. The Reich considered homosexuality a symptom of “racial degeneracy,” and homosexuals were incarcerated in prisons and concentration camps. Through the rigorous enforcement of Paragraph 175, the Nazis murdered thousands and shattered the lives of countless others.
For a Look or a Touch was inspired by the true love story of Manfred Lewin and Gad Beck, two young men who were doubly targeted as both Jewish and gay. Manfred was murdered in Auschwitz, but his journal with its poetic entries about his love with Gad was preserved and now resides in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Gad survived harsh imprisonment and lived until 2012.
Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer tell their story with deep compassion that never descends to pathos or sentimentality. The music, of heart-stopping beauty, conveys wisdom that helps us to appreciate those touched by the Holocaust in all of their complicated humanity. It’s also a profound meditation on memory itself, and on the struggle, we face in confronting the ghosts of our own pasts.
MOR’s performance from 2016 at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music features charismatic baritone Michael Mayes as Manfred and the late great musical actor Robert Orth as Gad. The production was directed by Erich Parce. MOR’s instrumental ensemble, all members of the Seattle Symphony, is conducted by Joseph Mechavich. To access the streaming performance May 18 through May 25, visit
Courtesy of Music of Remembrance