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James Conlon Conducts New Album, “Shapeshifter: Music of Erwin Schulhoff”

Released on Delos and linked to the Colburn School’s Recovered Voices Initiative, the album includes Schulhoff’s music, which was suppressed during the Nazi regime 


The Ziering-Conlon Initiative for Recovered Voices was created in 2013 at Los Angeles’ Colburn School to showcase music from composers whose careers and lives were disrupted or ended by the Nazi regime. 

The album “Shapeshifter” features music by Czech composer Erwin Schulhoff written between 1923 and 1937. His works were suppressed during the period of WWII, and he died in captivity in 1942. 

Conducted by LA Opera’s music director James Conlon, the album involves the RVC Ensemble, pianist Dominic Cheli, violinist Adam Millstein, and the Colburn School Orchestra.

Featured works are Schulhoff’s Concerto for Piano and Small Orchestra, Op. 43; Five Pieces for String Quartet; Suite for Piano, Left Hand; Sonata No. 2 for Violin and Piano; and Susi, for solo piano. 

To purchase and listen to the album, click here. A live performance of Cheli performing Susi can be viewed below.



Also the artistic director of the Colburn School’s Ziering-Conlon Initiative for Recovered Voices, Conlon has helped rediscover the works by composers whose stories and art had almost been lost in history. 

The initiative was inspired by LA Opera’s own Recovered Voices project and has been supported by LA philanthropist Marilyn Ziering. This program at the Colburn School has not only allowed lesser-known works to be performed by professional musicians, but also by young emerging artists.

“While Schulhoff’s music has been gradually emerging from near-total obscurity in recent years, Shapeshifter is especially notable as the first album-length example of his works being taken up by American musicians of classical’s ascendant ‘next generation,’ Delos explained on its website. “[We] hope the album sparks increased interest in Schulhoff among younger players and their audiences.”

“The importance of history cannot be underestimated,” Conlon told the Colburn School, referring to the initiative. “I think that we need, as a classical music community, to dig deeper into the 20th century and to bring out this group of composers and the music and to understand why we don’t know them, which was of course, political and racist suppression,” he continued. “It is very important that we restore to civilization what belongs to our civilization.”

A video about the Ziering-Conlon Initiative for Recovered Voices can be viewed below.


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