CULTURE Musical tells story of Jewish musicians in city during WWII


Musical tells story of Jewish musicians in city during WWII


19:58, February 26, 2021

The 2021 Lantern Festival Reception takes place at the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum today. (Photos: SHINE)

A new musical about Jewish musicians who took refuge in Shanghai during World War II was promoted at the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum today.

Part of the musical titled “Shanghai Sonatas” was performed for guests at the museum's 2021 Lantern Festival Reception.

With elements of Broadway-style shows, Chinese traditional operas and classical music, the play was jointly developed by Chinese and American artists. It is expected to be performed across the United States after the pandemic to promote unity, peace and cultural understanding, according to Gao Xiang, the executive producer and leading director.

Among the more than 20,000 Jews who took refuge in the city during the war — whose stories are chronicled at the museum — were 200 world-class German and Austrian musicians, who taught many Chinese children — some of whom went on to become world famous.

“I visited the museum five years ago and conducted four years of research to create the musical,” Gao said.

Guests visit the expanded museum after the reception.

“Shanghai Sonatas” is based on a true story about an Austrian concertmaster who played in a Shanghai nightclub in 1939 to flee Nazi persecution.

Workshop performances of the musical have taken place in New York, Arizona and Delaware and have become popular in both the US and China.

The reception “Ode to Hope and Friendship” was sponsored by the US department of the Foreign Affairs Office of Shanghai Municipality, the museum and Due to the pandemic, some overseas guests took part via video link.

Additionally, a virtual exhibition of the museum was launched on the official website of Chicago Sister Cities ( at the event.

Located in Hongkou District's Tilanqiao neighborhood, the renovated museum has more than quadrupled in size to 4,000 square meters, creating space for 10 times more exhibits.

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