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Forbidden Songs: Lost Music and Film of Midcentury Poland

Forbidden Songs

This two-day festival explores the fraught artistic and personal decisions confronted by musicians under repressive regimes. Full details at

Forbidden Songs was the first feature film released in Poland after WWII. Conceived and written by Ludwik Starski, a Polish-Jewish survivor of the Holocaust, the film remarkably adopted the genre of light musical comedy to portray the diverse experiences of Warsaw's inhabitants during the period of Nazi occupation (1939–1945). The film’s score, created by Palester, draws heavily on authentic popular sources, notably satirical Polish “street songs” banned by the Nazis but nonetheless performed as expressions of resistance and a means of psychological sustenance during this time of deprivation and terror.

The world premiere of the film will be of great interest to anyone fascinated by European cinema and music, WWII history and politics, and Holocaust studies. “The film gives us a glimpse into the ways in which music helped Polish Jews and non-Jews alike to reclaim notions of community in the immediate postwar years,” explains Barbara Milewski, Associate Professor of Music at Swarthmore College, who will introduce the film at the screening.

Time and Place
March 17, 2018, 8:00 pm
Klarman Auditorium on the Cornell campus