Town Band and Orchestra

Ostrowiec was filled with many talented artists.  There was both a town band and a town orchestra.


Pictured: Zile Szpilman (seated, 3rd from left); Ruben Szpilman, father of Leo Spellman (seated 4th from left); Yisroel Leyb Szpilman, grandfather of Wladyslaw Szpilman and Leo Spellman (standing top row with bass); Szymon Bajgelman, father of Henry Baigelman (standing far left).
—YIVO Institute for Jewish Research

This winter, it was decided to organize a charity concert for the poorest. For some time, the orchestra was operating under the baton of conductor Pietruszka from Lodz. The musicians of the Ostrowiec ghetto orchestra were: Janka Malinger (singer) and Baigelman played saxophones, the talented musician Dr. Pecker from Vienna was a cellist, Jankiel (Yakub) Lustig and Pinchas Mitsmacher on the horsetails, the double bass held by Itzchak Baigelman and the accordion Moshe Mitsmacher. In addition, the young, less than ten-year-old Chaya Muszkies (Hellen Mueller) played the piano and some Wohl conducted recitations.

The concert took place in the school building on Iłżecka Street. It must have been a very solemn and lofty day. The prominent citizens of Ostrowiec sat in the audience of the concert, and Ludwik Wacholder, known to everyone in the city, stood out among them with a bulky figure and a loud voice. He also came with his wife, Dora, Icchak Rubinstein, a tall, gray-haired man who from the middle of 1940 was chairman of the Judenrat (Jewish Council of Elders - introduced by the Nazis in 1939 form of power over Jewish communities by Jewish leaders). His daughter and her husband were there. There were other Jewish Council officials - Moshe Alterman and David Diament. The artistic family of Muszkies could not be missing, the more so because their older music talented daughter played in the ghetto orchestra. And that's the father of little Chaya...

On the damaged, but still well-preserved, photo from the winter of '42, taken just before or after the concert, we see them cheerful, hopefully looking forward, because it is typically human belief that "even after the darkest night, the sun rises..."


The photo comes from the family collection of Hellen Mueller, née Muszkies, who recognized the concert participants.

Bottom row, sitting from left:

Mr. and Mrs. Baigelman, Dr. Pecker, Oles (Francis) Pietruszka, Mrs. Pietruszka, Leon Szpilman, reciter Wohl, Janka Malinger, unknown (from Łódź), conductor Pietruszka, Jankiel (Yakub) Lustig, Pinchas Mitsmacher, Chaja Muszkies (Hellen Mueller) at the piano, and Rutka Muszkies.

Top row, standing from the left:

unknown (Rubinstein's son-in-law), Sander Lederman, Dora Rubinstein, Mosze Alterman, Dr. Ludwik Wacholder, Willy Kierbel, Dora Rubinsztain, Icchak Rubinstein, unknown, David Diament, Małka Muszkies, the double bass player Yitschak Baigelman, Baigelman and accordionist Moshe Mitzmacher .

Photo by Szmul Muszkies, winter 1942.

Notation: Helen Mueller recalled (in 2023) that in the concert, she played a” Mozart concerto in G major”  [A.B.]