90-Year-Old Holocaust Survivor Plays Piano at Symphony Hall

George Horner performed alongside Yo-Yo Ma to benefit the Terezin Music Foundation.

george horner and yo-yo ma

Photo via Associated Press

The already remarkable life of Holocaust survivor George Horner took another exceptional turn Tuesday night when he made his debut at Symphony Hall in front of more than 1,000 people.

Horner, a pianist, played alongside world-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma. The duo’s performance was part of a benefit gala for the Terezin Music Foundation, which is dedicated to preserving the work of artists and musicians killed during the Holocaust. The foundation is named for the town of Terezin, the site of a Jewish ghetto located in what was then German-occupied Czechoslovakia where Nazi soldiers allowed prisoners to stage artistic performances.

Some of the music played Tuesday night was actually performed by Horner himself when he was in Terezin nearly 70 years ago, according to the Associated Press. Horner served time in three Nazi concentration camps and was 21  in 1945 when he was freed by the Allied forces. His parents and sister died in the camps.

A selection of the songs were composed by Karel Svenk, also a prisoner at Terezin. Svenk did not survive the Holocaust, but his musical legacy lives on through Horner. “It’s an extraordinary link to the past,” concert organizer Mark Ludwig, who leads the Terezin foundation, told the AP.

Horner seemed to be ecstatic about performing alongside Yo-Yo Ma, and the two left the stage hand-in-hand after receiving a standing ovation and multiple bouquets of flowers from the audience.