Kurt and Gerda Ackermann with Taka Kling, ca. 1990

Paul Kling (1929-2005) was a gifted Czech born Jewish violinist who managed to survive internment at two Nazi concentration camps in adolescence. After the war he became a concert master at the NKO Symphony in Tokyo. There he met and married his wife, Japanese harpist, Taka Kling. From Tokyo the Klings moved to Louisville, playing with the Louisville Orchestra before settling in Victoria, British Columbia. The Ackermanns and Klings maintained a close lifelong friendship. This photograph was likely taken by Paul Kling on a trip the two couples took together.


Kurt and Gerda Ackermann (left) Emil and Trude Breiner (center) Gabriel and Lynn Gruber (right)

The last item in the Ackermann Family Papers is a letter dated May 22, 1996 addressed to Gerda and Kurt from Louis Nagel, then director of the University of Michigan School of Music, Theater and Dance. A piano prodigy and Louisville native, Nagel reflects on his musical upbringing and education here. “I recall so well the pleasure you got from making and hearing music,” he writes. “I think seeing you, and my dad, and others of similar dispositions enjoy music with every ounce and fiber of their being was a great learning experience for me...you had a great part in forming my attitude and for this I thank you.”

The Ackermann photos and papers were donated to the Filson in 2019 by Daniel and Lynn Gruber, nephew and niece of Emil and Trude Breiner.

Is there a Violins of Hope in the Ohio Valley story in your family that you would like to document? Please email AbbyGlogower@FilsonHistorical.org