Leo Spellman'sRhapsody193919451939 to 1945logo04

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A Composition Born of War, Suffering… and Hope

Rhapsody 1939-1945 is a sonic recounting of Leo’s torturous years spent hiding with his wife in Poland during the holocaust. In fact, if not for the courageous help of a 21-year-old Polish student, Leo likely would not have lived to write the piece.
The rhapsody was written in three sections: the first section thunders with the terrifying clamour and chaos of war; the second section recedes into the endless depths of suffering; while the third and final section re-emerges from that suffering with the promise of hope and the unassailable human spirit.

Lost and Found

After emigrating to Toronto following the war, Leo tucked his composition away in a suitcase, where it stayed for over 65 years. Unfortunately, upon rediscovering his “forgotten” composition in 2002, Leo realized he was missing parts of the score. It wouldn’t be until 2010, that Leo would gain the help of Toronto conductor Paul Hoffert. Together the pair successfully re-assembled the piece, adding some of Leo’s grandfather’s songs into the arrangement.
With Paul Hoffert conducting, and significant financial support by Moses Znaimer, the completed composition saw its world premiere on Sept 3, 2012 as part of the Ashkenaz Festival in Toronto. And yes, Leo was in the audience!

A New Arrangement for Concert Band

Leo passed away less than three months after the world premiere of Rhapsody 1939-1945. However, his music lives on. In 2015, a mutual friend introduced Gary Martin to Paul Hoffert, and with Paul’s blessing, Gary has spent the last year re-arranging Rhapsody for concert band. Now at long last, with your support, Leo’s composition has the chance to be heard with the depth and power of a full concert band.


But as we mentioned, it won’t happen without help!


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About Gary Martin

Gary Martin received his Bachelor’s Degree in Music from the University of Toronto, during which time he studied Composition with Walter Buczinski and Edward Laufer. He also studied Orchestration & Arranging with Shelley Berger.
Over the years, Gary has written scores for major motion pictures, including a premiere for Director’s Choice at the Cannes Film Festival. He has written and recorded several works for Concert Band and Jazz ensembles, including “Blues for BH”, as played by Don Menza.
In 1989 he was commissioned to write a fanfare for Princess Margaret.
Gary is currently the leader of the MegaCity Big Band.

Support the project

We need your help to present the world premiere of Rhapsody 1939-1945 for concert band!

Become a patron by making a pledge on our kickstarter or send your donations through PayPal and help us tell Leo Spellman’s story to the world.

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