Remembering Dr. Herbert Zipper

As an elementary school student, our school had an orchestra come to the gym to play for us. Its conductor and director was Dr. Herbert Zipper. While I did not care for classical music when I was little, there was a certain magic to sitting on a gym floor and listening to fine music.

Little did I know that Dr. Zipper was a Holocaust survivor, imprisoned at Dachau, was bought out by his father, then went to the Philippines to start an orchestra there. When the Japanese invaded, he was again imprisoned.

After the war, he came to America to do what he loved best: teach others to love music. One of the places he came to live was Chicago. He started the North Shore summer music program, and gave those school concerts among all the other things in his life.

I had no idea that his story was turned into a book, then an Academy Award nominated documentary. I got the documentary yesterday, and sat spellbound watching this great man’s life unfold where previously I just thought of him as the man who led the school gym concerts.

The title is appropriate, as Dr. Zipper was born in 1904, and lived into his 90’s. He was still working at the age of 92. The title of the DVD is a little different than the title of the book. I highly recommend watching it.

Never Give Up: The Twentieth-Century Odyssey of Herbert Zipper.

Thank you, Dr. Zipper, for being a survivor with a tattoo who led generations of people on a path to music appreciation.

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