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Percy Brand Papers

 Collection
Identifier: P-865

Scope and Content Note

This collection contains papers and photographs of Percy Brand, chronicling his professional life as a violinist in Boston. Mainly composed of programs and newspaper articles of his performances, the collection also has his miscellaneous files with name cards, memos, correspondence to his wife and some photographs of his acquaintances. In addition, the collection includes Brand's artwork in pencil, crayon, and watercolor, some of which are signed, also included is the oversized music stand he used when he performed. The collection is arranged into three series.

Dates

  • undated, 1949-1995

Creator

Language of Materials

The collection is in English and Hebrew.

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for researcher use. Please contact us to request access or to make an appointment to view this collection at jhcreference@nehgs.org.

Use Restrictions

There may be some restrictions on the use of this collection. For more information contact jhcreference@nehgs.org.

Biographical Note

Percy (Peretz) Brand, a noted violinist and Holocaust survivor, was born in Liepaja, Latvia on April 2, 1908. He began studying the violin at age 10. When the Germans took control of the Baltic States in 1941 (Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia, which bordered Poland and was under Russian control) he was concertmaster of the Riga Latvian Symphony Orchestra.

The SS Einsatzgruppen units that occupied Latvia killed Brand's first wife Sara, son Mendel, and daughter Judith Basya. Brand was first imprisoned in a Jewish ghetto in Riga and later sent to the Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany. Playing the violin saved his life during the Holocaust. In interviews given after emigration to the United States in 1949, Brand described playing for the ghetto's commandant and being rewarded with food. "Every time they called me to play, I would get a bit of food, probably the only thing that kept me alive", he said.

After liberation, he joined other Buchenwald survivors in the Zionist collective Geringhof, known as Kibbutz Buchenwald, in Fulda, Germany. He continued to play his violin and performed for other survivors in various Displaced Persons (DP) camps. In 1947, he became the first Jew to perform Hebrew and Jewish music over the radio in Frankfurt am Main. He met his second wife, Gertrude (Grunia) Levine, at one of his concerts. Widowed during the Holocaust, she had heard a violinist from her hometown was performing in a concert. They married soon after, and Gertrude also became his manager.

The couple immigrated to the United States under the sponsorship of Harry Marcus, Gertrude's great uncle. They arrived in New York in February 1949, and moved to Boston. Brand became well known as a radio and later television performer in America. He performed for charitable organizations and causes, including the Beth Israel Hospital, Brookline Hospital and the Zionist Organization.

He died on August 8, 1985, at the age of 77, and was survived by Gertrude and his sister Mary, the only family member to survive the war.

Chronology

1908
Percy Brand born in Liepaja, Latvia
?-1941
Concertmaster of the Riga Latvian Symphony Orchestra
1941-1945
Imprisoned in the Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany
1945-1949
Lived in Fulda, Germany as a violinist, and married Gertrude
1949-1985
Emigration to the United States, Violinist in Boston, MA

References

  1. Materials from the collection.
  2. Obituaries, The Jewish Advocate, Thursday, August 15, 1985, p. 21

Extent

0.5 linear feet (1 manuscript box and 2 oversized folders)

Abstract

Percy Brand was a violinist by profession and Holocaust survivor. Born in Liepaja, Latvia on April 2, 1908, he began playing violin at the age of ten. In 1941, when the Germans took control of Latvia and other Baltic countries, Brand was concertmaster of the Riga Latvian Symphony Orchestra. After the SS Einsatzgruppen units occupying Latvia killed his first wife and two children, Brand was sent to the Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany. Playing the violin saved his life during the Holocaust. Brand and his second wife, Gertrude, immigrated to the United States and moved to Boston in 1949, where Brand became a well-known radio and television performer. He died on August 8, 1985, at the age of 77. This collection contains papers and photographs of Percy Brand, chronicling his professional life as a violinist in Boston. Mainly composed of programs and newspaper articles of his performances, the collection has miscellaneous files with name cards, memos, correspondence, and Brand's artwork in pencil, crayon, and watercolor. Also included is the oversized music stand he used when he performed.

Physical Location

Located in Boston, Mass.

Acquisition Information

Donated by Linda Rakoff in 2008.

Processing Information

Processed by Kate Jeungeun Huh, 2009

Creator

Title
Guide to the Percy Brand Papers, P-865
Author
Processed by Kate Jeungeun Huh
Date
2009

Repository Details

Part of the Wyner Family Jewish Heritage Center at New England Historic Genealogical Society Repository

Contact:
99-101 Newbury Street
Boston MA 02116 United States
617-226-1245