Karel Ančerl conducts the Czech Philharmonic in two very late Bartok works. Both works were written while the composer lived in Saranac Lake, New York in 1945. For Ančerl conducting these works must have been a personal experience: 1945 was the year he was fighting for his life in Auschwitz.
During the year before the conductor was forced to participate in a propaganda movie for the Red Cross in the concentration camp Theresienstadt. The film was made so that nobody saw the musicians didn’t wear anything on their feet. Immediately after having finished it, all participants, including conductor and composer, were taken away to Auschwitz. Ančerl survived, his wife and infant child did not.
The recording of Bartok is made in 1962. During these years Ančerl shaped the Czech Philharmonic into the highlight of its existence. After the Warsaw Pact invaded Czechoslovakia in 1968, he fled the country to live and work in Toronto, Canada. He died there in 1973, but you can find his grave in Prague.