Over the last 20 years, Peter has been interviewed by numerous publications as well as speaking to a variety of television, on-line and radio outlets. Some of those who have featured Peter Gary are:
Fourty years ago, Dr. Peter Gary wrote a hugely elaborate composition called, a 20th Century Passion.
It took him three years. And it’s never been performed.
Now, friends are fundraising, so that Dr. Gary’s Passion can be heard for the first time.
Sitting next to producer David Malysheff, Judy Estrin is reviewing footage of a documentary about her husband, Dr. Peter Gary.
“Peter’s an interesting guy” says Judy, with a smile, as she thinks about how to describe her husband.
“He’s not your normal 92 year old guy…
“He’s very vibrant, and very vital, he’s got diverse interests, he reads six or seven books at a time, he’s very cultured.
“And, he’s a ‘doctor doctor’…he has a PhD, and an MD!”
Peter Gary is also a holocaust survivor.
“He survived Majdanek, he survived Dachau, and he was eventually liberated by the British from Bergen Belsen.” says Estrin.
He was liberated on his twenty-first birthday, and he weighed seventy-six pounds.
Dr. Gary has spoken to more than sixty-six thousand students across Vancouver Island, spreading a message of tolerance and compassion.
Producer David Malysheff, from Gamut Productions, explains his connection the couple.
“I met Peter and Judy when they hired me to do a little film project for them…just a simple little interview of Peter and a conductor from Israel.
The interview was about a major composition Peter had written decades ago.
“A 20th Century Passion is a massive, large oratorio that Peter wrote in the mid-70’s, and then it got put on the shelf, and nobody has ever heard it, it’s never been performed.”
Peter’s wife is determined to see 20th Century Passion performed, on October 17, in Israel.
She admits that “at the end of this piece, people will be sobbing, in the audience, but that’s OK. It is a piece about remembering.”
And Dr. Gary, in Malysheff’s documentary, states about his composition “Now, the Jews will have something to mourn by.”
But to fulfill his dream, and see this oratorio performed, will cost an estimated seventy-thousand dollars.
“It’s such a huge piece!” says Estrin.
“It’s two choirs, it’s four soloists…the orchestra that’s doing it is a small orchestra, the Tel Aviv Soloists, so they have to hire, essentially, a band, they had to hire the rehersal halls, they had to hire the hall in Jerusalem…”
And so, these two are fundraising, to ensure Dr. Gary lives to see his dream come true.
“He’s come close to having this piece performed before…it’s going to happen” says a determined Estrin.
“To actually see a live orchestra, and choirs, and soloists, perform this piece…I think it would be a dream come true for Peter.” adds Malysheff.
Aish.com on Peter Gary
“Peter Gary was a nice Jewish boy. He was an only child living with his parents in Budapest, 1937. And he was busy.”
“He studied languages and music. He spoke Hungarian, German, and French – he learned those languages at school – and after school he studied English (his father loved everything English).”
“His mother loved music – she came from a musical family and a long line of musicians – and encouraged him to attend the Franz List Royal Academy of Music. He studied piano, composition, and even attended a series of Béla Bartók’s master classes. He wanted to be a conductor.”
“He was educated, cultured, and Jewish. Not that he knew much about being Jewish. His Bar Mitzvah was his only Jewish experience, and that was terrifying. (He was given a crash course in Torah reading a few months before his 13th birthday and performed in front of a packed house at Europe’s largest synagogue. Not that anyone warned him before he showed up.)”
“His father was a successful businessman – the family was comfortably upper middle class, they owned a car! – and he was often away on business. Life was great. And then came Christmas, 1941.”
“Peter was 17. He was home alone with his mother – his father was away on another business trip – and there was a knock on the door. It was the Nazis. They barged in, brutalized Peter and his mother, forced them out of their home, and loaded them onto a truck. The truck was sent up north and Peter was pulled from his comfortable life of languages and music and sent into hell. Just like that.”
“About 10,000 Jews were rounded up that Christmas in Budapest. And although the Nazis didn’t officially round up Hungarian Jewry until 1944, Peter was “lucky” (as he tells it). He was born in Poland in 1924 – his parents were traveling when his mother gave birth – and that made him “Polish” as far as the Nazis were concerned.”
“Peter and his mother were herded onto the last truck out of Budapest. They were taken to the middle of nowhere, along dirt roads, and into the woods. They heard machine gun fire. His mother told him, “Everything is going to be fine.” And she told him that over and over again. “
”Maybe she believed it. He wanted to believe her. But it didn’t take a genius to figure out what the Nazis were up to.”
The Jewish Independant On Peter Gary
“April is a month of miracles for Peter Gary. An April baby, he was born in Poland in 1924, where he first developed his love – and talent – for playing music and composition. Starting piano by age 5, he was accepted into the Franz Liszt Royal Academy at age 11, being chosen to attend classes with Bela Bartok, Zoltan Kodaly and Leo Weiner. In 1941, however, Gary and his mother were arrested by the Nazis. His mother was murdered soon after, trying to protect him. After surviving the Warsaw Ghetto, Gary, who was in his late teens, was sent to Majdanek, then Dachau and, finally, Bergen-Belsen. He was liberated from there in April 1945, just as he turned 21 years old.”
“Following more music studies in Paris and a career in medicine in California, where he eventually settled, Gary retired in Victoria, B.C. For many years, he chose not to speak about his Holocaust experiences. Instead, in the mid-1970s, he returned to his love of music to compose something that would help express the immensity of the losses he experienced and the loss of six million fellow Jews.”