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Ted Rosenthal’s Dear Erich: Grandmother to Son

The pianist writes a jazz opera about his father’s relationship with his Jewish family in Nazi Germany 

Ted Rosenthal - composer of "Dear Erich" (photo by Cathy Lillian)
Ted Rosenthal – composer of “Dear Erich” (photo by Cathy Lillian)

Ted Rosenthal has a long and impressive résumé. The 58-year-old pianist was an early winner of the prestigious Thelonious Monk Competition and went on to a successful career as a solo artist and accompanist to singers like Ann Hampton Callaway and Helen Merrill, as well as to horn players like Gerry Mulligan and Art Farmer. He’s composed piano concertos and collaborated with dance companies. Now, he adds opera librettist to his c.v. Inspired by the discovery of hundreds of letters that Rosenthal’s grandmother had sent to his father from Nazi Germany between 1938 and 1941, the pianist wrote Dear Erich, a jazz opera whose world premiere will be presented by the New York City Opera as a co-production with the National Yiddish Theater Folksbiene at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, adjacent to Battery Park in NYC, Jan. 9-15. Rosenthal spoke about the project with us while on the Jazz Cruise, during which he performed a few of its songs, including one composition sung on the ship by Kurt Elling. You can learn more at —LEE MERGNER


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