Percy Brand Papers
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.
- undated, 1949-1995
- Brand, Percy (Person)
Language of Materials
The collection is in English and Hebrew.
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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.
- Percy Brand born in Liepaja, Latvia
- Concertmaster of the Riga Latvian Symphony Orchestra
- Imprisoned in the Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany
- Lived in Fulda, Germany as a violinist, and married Gertrude
- Emigration to the United States, Violinist in Boston, MA
- Materials from the collection.
- Obituaries, The Jewish Advocate, Thursday, August 15, 1985, p. 21
0.5 linear feet (1 manuscript box and 2 oversized folders)
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.
Located in Boston, Mass.
Donated by Linda Rakoff in 2008.
Processed by Kate Jeungeun Huh, 2009
- Berry, Yale J.
- Beth Israel Hospital (Boston, Mass.)
- Boston (Mass.)
- Brand, Gertrude
- Brookline (Mass.)
- Buchenwald (Concentration camp)
- Clippings (information artifacts)
- Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America
- Latvijas nacionālais simfoniskais ork̦estris
- Liepaja (Latvia)
- Music stand
- Programs (documents)
- Refugee camps
- Roxbury (Boston, Mass.)
- Guide to the Percy Brand Papers, P-865
- Processed by Kate Jeungeun Huh
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Code for undetermined script