Survivor STORY

Fred Schneider grew up in Czernowitz, Romania. He survived the war in the Czernowitz ghetto. He and his wife, Tosia, moved to Atlanta when Fred accepted a professorship at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Well, I started taking music lessons when I was about six years old, piano lessons. And my father was convinced I was a child prodigy. And I guess I never disappointed him, I still think today that I'm a child prodigy when it comes to piano playing. A few years afterwards I managed to get an accordion, I was about, oh, maybe eleven years old and became rather good on the accordion, and that had a lot of connotations. Of course, there were no boom boxes, or things like that, so live music was one of the main centers of entertainment. So I became a rather popular person to invite and my social standing went up being an accordion player. I managed to hold on to my accordion and played in a school band and other orchestras as an amateur and then toward the end of the war, I actually joined a professional band, and this may have, this at least materially, helped me to survive at that time. My accordion was stolen in 1945, and I didn't have any money to buy another one for many years and by the time I did have the money to buy another one my musical interest had shifted now and I was much more interested in classical music than in accordion-type music. But a few years ago, my oldest son, who is very much in musical instruments, professional and otherwise, did get me another accordion, so about two or three times a year I do play it and it's almost like time had stopped, you know. I play quite well what I played sixty years ago, and I can't play any of the rock and roll or other such things today on the accordion. So that's the story of my accordion playing.

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Fred Schneider