A comic concert by the Israeli pianist Itay Dvori

C.omics define themselves as an inseparable combination of narrative images and texts. There is no mention of music as the third component. Nevertheless, Israeli pianist Itay Dvori discovered the principle of a comic concert four years ago: to display individual images from the stories presented, he plays music “carefully composed but generously improvised” (Dvori).

This was also the case on Tuesday evening in the entertainment hall of the Frankfurt Cultural Center Ignatz-Bubis, where, under Hamlet’s quote “One thing above all – you be real”, an insight into five biographies of important German Jews turned into comics was granted: Elke Renate Steiner has a tragic history Regina Jonas, the first female rabbi, Ken Krimstein sketched “The Three Lives of Hannah Arendt”, Barbara Yelin designed graphically both the career of actress Channa Maron and Mascha Kaléko’s famous autobiographical poem “My Children’s Song” and finally the fate of Elena Mistrello arranged in pictures by the mathematician Emma Noether.

Dvori accompanied five sequences of pictures, each of which lasted about ten minutes (mostly just comic book excerpts), in the style of a silent film virtuoso pianist. But around and between the individual projections he interspersed Mendelssohn’s Six Songs Without Words, whose longing, romantic melodies he also quoted in his comic compositions: to all the memories of happy times in Germany, which ended so cruelly at that time.

What a hucpa to mix wordless songs and pictures with words on a topic that makes you speechless with horror. Mendelssohn’s goal was to prove that music can tell a story without words. Comic book makers, on the other hand, don’t rely solely on their images. And Dvori himself, by expanding the comic with a third representative dimension, calls for hybrid art that no longer cares about formal boundaries, but should only be used to tell a story.

This is only in line with the need of his present program: to bear witness to the dark sides of German-Jewish history – with the form of light. Dvori’s encore was a luminous Nocturne by Mendelssohn’s sister, Fanny Hensel, regardless of the minor key. Another song without words, not identified at all as such, but in the brilliance of composition and interpretation, a sounding narrative piece incomparable. This left him speechless all evening. Then with excitement.

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