The world-famous musician Henrik Goldschmidt from The Middle East Peace Orchestra has devoted his life to healing the world. And his best offer to do this is free 🙂 That is why I want to share his story for anyone else, who wants to make a difference.
On a Wednesday night he decided to share his story with the parishioners of Hans Egedes Kirke at Østerbro (for free). A story which took its beginning in a fishing boat South to Jyllinge back in 1943.
That boat carried the Goldschmidt Family into safe Sweden from the Nazis who occupied Denmark in 1943 and searched their home in Copenhagen during these fatal hours around the 13th and 14th October. This is something Henrik Goldschmidt is very grateful for today, because less than a decade later – in 1952 – his father was able to claim himself a Danish citizen and Henrik was born as a Danish citizen in 1959.
The family never wished to return to their native Germany. For many good reasons. Henrik Goldschmidt’s grandparents were married in 1926, and they were told that their wedding was their last chance to be happy … A few years later the 1929 Stock Market Crash was a reality, and following chaos from that Adolf Hitler gained power in 1933, leading to World War II.
As a result, all people with Jewish origins (including the Goldschmidts) were labelled “Untermensch” (sub-people) and all of a sudden it was legal to persecute and harass them in any way. Henrik’s grandfather and his siblings even had to face the horror of the Nazi concentration camps, and even though they came out alive they brought horrible memories with them.
But it was also because of the scary background of his family that young Henrik discovered something very important. Growing up in a very musical family and being a gifted child himself, he often played music at family dinners. Soon he realised that when the music was on the old traumatised people in the family fell silent. The music was able to quiet their cruel memories, like a balm for the soul.
Today Henrik Goldschmidt never does anything without music. Even when he gives a speak he certainly brings his instruments.
But it was not until 1992 that Henrik realised that he could use his music to something similar outside his family. At this time, he worked as a professional musician in the Royal Danish Orchestra, but a certain sentence kept popping into his head: “You must remember to heal the world”. This was said to Henrik by his old grandmother, and he really wanted to follow her command. He just didn’t know how.
During the 90s a lot of refugees came to Denmark from Bosnia. Being out of a refugee-family himself Henrik thought that if he could just heal one of these refugees that could be a start to heal the world. So, he went to Red Cross’ accommodation center and started to play. And then something funny happened … everyone seemed to know the Jewish tune that he was playing! It turned out they just knew it as their own national tune, and soon all nationalities could sing and dance to the same piece of music.
At the same time Henrik got his very first Arab colleague and friend at the Royal Danish Orchestra. As children they were taught to hate each other as death enemies but as adults they had so much fun in playing music together. That gave Henrik an idea; what if he could create an orchestra with musicians from all over the world, playing with someone they ought to hate?
A decade later The Middle East Peace Orchestra played its first concert at the Danish Royal Library. Not exactly for free, but on credit, because nobody knew who they were or believed in the project. But they were saved by 7 minutes of broadcasting in the daily television news, guests arrived, and well …
… The rest is history 🙂
However, the much ambitious Henrik was not satisfied. He loved to play with The Middle East Peace Orchestra. But npo matter where in the world he played it was always the nice well-educated audience who showed up. If he really wanted to heal the world he needed to go somewhere else.
In 2006 he went to the core in the Middle East Conflict – the West Bank. His mission was to teach the Arab children to play music in stead of fighting the war. Being a Jew, this was not the easiest task in the world to him … But he did succeed, even when he witnessed some of his pupils celebrating Palestinian suicide bombers who caused death and pain to some of his Israeli friends. These children need music more than anyone, he thought after a night with no sleep.
Back in Denmark in 2011 he did something which is truly in the spirit of this blog – fun for free, also with a little challenge to the brain 🙂 He established Goldschmidts Musikakademi, which is a school of music to children from the poor areas of Nørrebro in Copenhagen. 200 children get free teaching from 20 skilled teachers at the academy and 100 children is currently on a waiting list.
The children of Goldschmidts Musikakademi play music together (no matter which talent they are born with) and create friendship across nationalities. Friendships which would never exist without the music. Besides the children get a small pay, about 50 DDK, from each concert they are playing throughout a year. That teaches them to do a good job – and be proud of it.
If you are not yet convinced what kind of power this creates – listen to this: After the Copenhagen Shootings in February 2015 there was a memorial in the Synagogue in Krystalgade. The father of Dan Uzan, who was shot that night, had asked Henrik to let the children of Goldschmidts Musikakademi perform at the memorial. Henrik told his children afterwards that they were responsible for comforting the adults; simply because they were performing next to each other, holding hands at a time which could easily be filled with even more hatred.
Wauv! I am impressed! Unfortunately our politicians are not 🙁 Recently they refused to support Goldschmidts Musikakademi financially, which means that the school survives – as it has always done – on private funds and donations.
Henrik Goldsmidt ended the evening in Hans Egedes Kirke as he always does – by playing music. Because music has fought wars and traumas, so it will definitely also be able to fight hopeless finances. To Henrik Goldschmidt music is always a part of the solution.
This man has certainly done his best to create the next Generation Peace for free. If you agree, you are welcome to share his story on this blogpost 🙂
Read more about Henrik’s fun for free Goldschmidts Musikakademi.
Read more about the (not always) free events in Hans Egedes Kirke.