Of Exile and Music: A 20th Cen­tu­ry Life

Eva May­er Schay
  • Review
By – September 13, 2011
Eva Schay’s par­ents were wise enough to know by July 1933 that it was time to leave Ger­many as soon as her father received a let­ter false­ly accus­ing him and debar­ring him from being a tax con­sul­tant because he was not an Aryan. After a brief sojourn in Paris, the fam­i­ly set­tled in Mal­lor­ca, until the Nation­al­ists, aid­ed by Ital­ian Fas­cists, came to pow­er and the Jews were deport­ed to their native coun­tries, in this case to Ger­many, and then to Italy. It was Eva’s moth­er, who hav­ing just read a book about South Africa, decid­ed that it was to be their next place of set­tle­ment. Once hav­ing set­tled there and even though her par­ents were clas­si­fied as ene­my aliens” until the war’s end, it wasn’t long before Eva’s tal­ent for vio­lin, as well as art, was dis­cov­ered and again, with her mother’s help, and her own deter­mi­na­tion, she set out for a career as a vio­lin­ist. Eva went through school, includ­ing uni­ver­si­ty in Johan­nes­burg, but con­tin­ued her musi­cal stud­ies in Lon­don. After return­ing to South Africa, she became a mem­ber, sec­ond vio­lin­ist and often soloist, of the SABC orches­tra. Once again, it is the moth­er who helps her achieve her dream and ulti­mate­ly fol­lows her to Eng­land, as apartheid becomes estab­lished in South Africa. This is a very, pos­si­bly too detailed biog­ra­phy, with numer­ous names of friends, acquain­tances, teach­ers, the love of her life, and the man she actu­al­ly mar­ried and learned to han­dle. Will be enjoyed pri­mar­i­ly by musi­cians. See also: My Race: A Jew­ish Girl Grow­ing Up Under Apartheid in South Africa, by Lor­raine Lot­zov Abram­son (Oxford Uni­ver­si­ty Press, 2010).
Mar­cia W. Pos­ner, Ph.D., of the Holo­caust Memo­r­i­al and Tol­er­ance Cen­ter of Nas­sau Coun­ty, is the library and pro­gram direc­tor. An author and play­wright her­self, she loves review­ing for JBW and read­ing all the oth­er reviews and arti­cles in this mar­velous periodical.

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