Durmashkin, Henny (Gurko)

Singer. Born 1924- Died, 2002 in Englewood Cliffs, N.J. Sister of pianist Fanny Durmashkin and conductor Wolf Durmashkin. Henny was the youngest. Her grandfather, Akiva, was the cantor of Vilna s main synagogue and respected composer of liturgical music. Before the war, Henny had studied opera. She was fluent in 8 languages. Her brother, Wolf Durmashkin, had been prominent in Vilna’s cultural, conducting the Vilna Philharmonic, prior to the ghetto life during WWII. In the ghetto, he directed a Hebrew choir and an orchestra in the ghetto. According to Barbara Durmashkin, Wolf perished at the age of 30, on Sept. 19, 1944. He was shot an hour before liberation of the Klooga concentration camp. During its 15 months in existence, the Ghetto orchestra performed 35 chamber and symphonic concerts. The last one took place on Aug. 29, 1943, three and a half weeks before the Ghetto was liquidated. “Liberated by American soldiers following a death march from Dachau in the spring of 1945, the Durmashkin sisters, the only two members of their famed Vilnius musical family to survive the Holocaust, became part of the Displaced Persons Orchestra at St. Otillien. The Bavarian town was the site of the monastery where the refugees were interned from 1945 to 1948.” (Jewish Standard–http://www.jstandard.com/articles/2780/1/%91Music-kept-them-going%92) A documentary about the lives of those in the orchestra,”Creating Harmony: The Displaced Persons Orchestra at St. Otillien,” had its premiere in summer 2007 at the Museum of Jewish Heritage. Henny met Simon Gurko in 1949, and married him. Henny recorded the album Songs To Remember. She was the mother of Vivian Reisman, Rita Lerner and Abe Gurko. Thursday, Sept. 11, 1997 the Museum of Jewish Heritage — A Living Memorial to the Holocaust was dedicated. Henny sang the Star Spangled Banner. Henny later donated artifacts to the archives of the Museum of Jewish Heritage including posters from the ghetto orchestra concerts and photos of herself with conductor and composer Leonard Bernstein. She died in the US. Henny Durmashkin’s obituary was published in Forward, Aug. 23, 2002 by Alana Newhouse under title, “Henny Gurko, 78, singer who serenaded inmates.” (aka Henny Durmashkin) If anyone has more biographical information about this singer, please forward to JMWC. Thanks.