Ronald Corp : Letters from Lony
Toccata Classics TOCC0507

Release Date: 01.01.2019
First Recording




Sarah Pring, mezzo-soprano
Chilingirian Quartet
Levon Chilingirian, violin
Ronald Birks, violin
Susie Mészáros, viola
Stephen Orton, cello
Andrew Brownell, piano

Letters from Lony tells the story of Leonie (‘Lony’) Rabl (born Fraenkel, Berlin in 1878) in her own words.
A German- Jewish exile from Nazism, she ran the Café de Paris in Amsterdam, writing when she could to her daughter and family, safe in England
Two further letters survive from after her deportation, on the journey that took her via Theresienstadt to Auschwitz.
Ronald Corp sets Lony’s letters as accompanied arioso, all the more moving for its understatement.

In 1942 the Café de Paris was declared one of the official Jewish meeting places for the Beethovenstraat district, and for the moment Amsterdam’s Jews carried on as best they could.
In her war diary An Interrupted Life, Etty Hillesum was full of praise for the fried flounder she was served at Café de Paris: ‘Unforgettable as to both price and quality’.
(An Interrupted Life: The Diaries and Letters of Etty Hillesum 1941–43, transl. Arnold J. Pomerans, Persephone Books, London, 1999)
The writer Harry Mulisch described in My Book of Hours how he went there every week to drink a cup of ersatz coffee with his mother.
(Mijn Getijdenboek, Landshoff / De Bezige Bij, Amsterdam, 1975)

At the end of August 1943 Lony Rabl was deported to Westerbork, a transit camp near the German border.
On 23 February 1944, she sent a last letter from Westerbork to a contact in Amsterdam, clearly intended to be passed on to family and friends. (It reached her daughter and grandson in London only in September 1945.)
On 25 February, the Germans deported her from Westerbork to Terezín (Theresienstadt), the garrison town. in occupied Czechoslovakia that was used as a ghetto and has since become famous for the intellectual life that flourished there.
As the German Reich crumbled under attack from east, west and the skies, on 12 October 1944 she was put on a transport from Theresienstadt to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where she was murdered two days later.

  1. No.   1, Letter 1 13 September 1939
  2. No.   1a, Lullaby
  3. No.   2, Letter 2 28 September 1939
  4. No.   3, Letter 3 16 November 1939
  5. No.   4, Letter 4 3 December 1939
  6. No.   5, Letter 5 18 December 1939
  7. No.   5a, Interlude
  8. No.   6, Letter 6 13 February 1940
  9. No.   7, Letter 7 5 May 1940
  10. No.   7a, Interlude
  11. No.   8, Letter 8 26 September 1940
  12. No.   9, Letter 9 undated, 1940
  13. No. 10, Letter 10 undated, probably c. 9 November
  14. No. 11, Letter 11 undated, probably later in November
  15. No. 11a, Interlude
  16. No. 12, Letter 12 11 February 1941
  17. No. 13, Letter 13 unknown date, perhaps late September/early October 1941
  18. No. 14, Letter 14 1 October 1941
  19. No. 15, Letter 15 6 January 1942
  20. No. 15a, Interlude
  21. No. 16, Letter 16 30 December 1943, from Westerbork Camp
  22. No. 17, Letter 17 23 February 1944, from Westerbork Camp