The Brundibár Lecture Series

The cast of "Brundibár" in the Terezín concentration camp. Photo property of the Jewish Museum in Prague.

The cast of “Brundibár” in the Terezín concentration camp. Photo property of the Jewish Museum in Prague.

Children in Extreme Circumstances
Our lecture series aims to deepen the Brundibár experience by providing context for the artistic work and honoring the memory of those who created and first performed the work. We are excited to offer the community several public talks in February and March illuminating the profound history and impact of Brundibár.


February 6 / March 12 / March 16 / March 17

“Children, Music, Art, and Hope” with Dr. Ellen Handler Spitz
Today, with few exceptions, the presence and cultivation of the arts have diminished in schools nationwide, while cognitive subjects are taught and endlessly tested. Brundibár speaks to the value of the arts for children in extreme circumstances.  All children need the arts, and the power of Brundibár testifies to that need, not just with regard to children helplessly caught in dire situations, but to all the world’s children.

February 6, 7:30 p.m. and March 12*, 5:30 p.m.
BCA Center
135 Church Street, Burlington

*The March 12 lecture will be followed by a performance of Brundibár at Contois Auditorium next door. Ticket information is available at or by calling 802-86-FLYNN.

“A Children’s Opera in the Holocaust: Staging Brundibár” with Dr. Anna Hájková
Examining the composer, the creatives, and especially the actors in the original production of Brundibár, Dr. Hájková will explore the Terezín ghetto through the lens of a children’s opera, while placing the work back into the context of the ghetto, outside of redemptive narratives.

March 16, 7:30 p.m.
Main Street Landing Film House
60 Lake Street, Burlington

“Children in Terezín” with Dr. Anna Hájková

Children in Terezín, lunchtime talk by Anna Hajkova, Univ of Warwick

Mar 17, 2016
12:00 pm to 1:00 pm
OZ Synagogue, 188 N. Prospect Street, Burlington

A lunchtime talk by Anna Hajkova.

From the approximately 9,000 Jewish children who were deported to Terezín, fewer than 1,400 lived to the end of the war. Dr. Hájková will explore the conditions that the self-created Jewish administration of Terezín created for the youth there, as well as other dominant influences in the ghetto. She will also look at the narrative regarding children and cultural production that has dominated the discussion and remembrance of Terezín in the years since the Holocaust.

March 17, 12:00 p.m.
Ohavi Zedek Synagogue
188 North Prospect Street, Burlington
Lunch will be available for a suggested donation.

Support for this series has been generously provided by The Carolyn and Leonard Miller Center for Holocaust Studies at the University of Vermont; The Vermont Humanities Council; Burlington City Arts; Susan Leff; The Scholar-in-Residence Program of Ohavi Zedek Synagogue; and Rabbi Joshua and Kathy Chasan


What is everyday life, and what does it consist of? And in what ways is everyday life affected by life in extremis? These questions animate Dr. Hájková's work. Her dissertation, "The Prisoner Society in Terezín Ghetto, 1941-1945," which was awarded the 2014 Irma Rosenberg and Herbert Steiner Prizes, focused on the everyday history of the Holocaust, using the Terezín transit ghetto as a springboard to examine larger issues of human behavior under extreme stress. Her work examines the society in the camps, Jewish social and political elites, issues of nationalism and ethnicity, gender and sexuality, and also the Jewish Councils. Dr. Hájková is an Assistant Professor of Modern Continental European History at the University of Warwick, UK. For more information about Dr. Hájková and a list of publications, please see her web page at the University of Warwick.
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Ellen Handler Spitz is a writer, lecturer, and scholar who currently holds the Honors College Professorship of Visual Arts at University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), where she has taught interdisciplinary seminars in aesthetics, literature, psychology, and the visual arts since 2001. She has held numerous fellowships, including year-long appointments at the Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities, the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University, and the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. Among her abiding interests are the cultural lives of young people, the relations between aesthetics and psychology, and interconnections among various art forms, including literature, music, and dance, as well as the visual arts. For more information about Dr. Spitz, including a full biography and list of her publications, see