In 1901, the eight-year-old German-Jewish artist Fritz Ascher (Berlin, 1893-1970) drew mother and son negotiating the purchase of a Christmas tree. This is the first known artwork by the artist, which he sketched in graphite and then executed in ink on paper.

Fritz Ascher, Winter Scene, 1901. Graphite and black ink on paper, 13.8 x 10.4 inches. Copyright Bianca Stock

Find out more about Fritz Ascher in our short biographical film:

Some years later, around 1913, Fritz Ascher draws a conductor on the verso of that same sheet of paper. The caricature shows Ascher’s tenderness and admiration: music, especially Beethoven’s music, accompanied him wherever it could.

Fritz Ascher, Conductor, c. 1913. Graphite on paper, 13.8 x 10.4 inches. Copyright Bianca Stock

Leonard Bernstein was the most influential conductor of the 20th century,  so I am reminded of the last letter that networker and music patron Emmy Rubensohn wrote to Leonard Bernstein on March 15, 1961:

“Dearest Maestro, Your great words on the Mitropoulos Memorial Concert were:

Blessed, who dies in the music of Mahlers III. Symphony. That [was] my deepest impression, before I myself had to fight a heart attack some hours later at home. But I won the battle, and have to rest for some time in this excellent hospital, one bloc from you and Carnegie Hall. I am unhappy, not to be with you at the rehearsals. And deeply unhappy not to be with you and Alma, when you play the Mahlers III. I hope also, Alma will come with somebody else – the first time in our friendship.

All my best wishes are with you, dearest Maestro,

In admiration Yours Emmy Rubensohn.”

She died on 31 March 1961 – “Blessed, who dies in the music of Mahler’s III”, blessed too are those who can honour others.”

Emmy Rubensohn, letter from March 15, 1961 to Leonard Bernstein

Find out more in the exhibition “Emmy Rubensohn! Networker and Music Patron – from Leipzig to New York,” on view until January 14, 2024 at the GRASSI Museums in Leipzig (Germany):

As 2023 is coming to a close, please consider supporting FAS’ mission to discover and commemorate artists who were persecuted by the German Nazi regime by responding to our end-of-year fundraising appeal.

The Fritz Ascher Society is a not-for-profit 501(c)3 organization. Your donation is fully tax deductible. THANK YOU.

Season’s Greetings,

In gratitude,

Rachel Stern
Executive Director