Chajes has spent
nearly a lifetime
work of Wolfgang
VICTORIA BELYEU DIAZ
Special to The Jewish News
. er name is Mar-
Chajes, but they
call her "Mrs.
It's not hard to see why.
Some 30 years ago, on a Sunday
afternoon in Salzburg, Austria, she
found herself without a ticket to a
sold-out concert she had counted on
attending. Having come all the way
from America, and because the con-
cert was to feature the music of
Mozart — one of her favorite com-
posers — the talented, Austrian-born
singer was especially disappointed. So
disappointed, in fact, that she decid-
ed she wouldn't be turned away
without a fight.
Her "fight" consisted of marching
herself up to the president of
Salzburg's International Foundation
Mozarteum, and asking if she might
"I reminded the
that Detroit was a Motor
City, not a Mozart city."
share the special box he and several
other Mozarteum officials intended to
occupy during the concert.
At first hesitant, the president of
the famed museum and academy,
after a bit more arm-twisting, even-
tually agreed to her request, and an
extra chair was brought in so that the
ardent Mozart fan could enjoy the
Though Marguerite Chajes didn't
know it at the time, it was the begin-
ning of a year's-long dedication to the
18th Century composer, considered by
many to be the greatest musical
genius who ever lived.
"At intermission, I went to the
foyer to smoke, and (the president)
followed;' Chajes would recall many
years later, in the art-filled Oak Park
home she shares with daughter and
son-in-law, Vivian and Irving
" 'I have to ask you for a favor, he
said. Then, he asked me if I could help
to set up a Mozart Society in
Marguerite Chajes looks at the score from Mozart's opera, "The Magic Flute."
In the offing was a plan, initiated jes, who admits today that she had
by the Mozarteum, to put together the her doubts about her ability to set up
definitive collection of the great com- such a group in her adopted
poser's works. This would be an up-' American home, Detroit. "I remind-
dated, thoroughly comprehensive ver- ed the Mozarteum president that
sion — more comprehensive than the Detroit was a Motor City, not a
famous Kochel catalogue published Mozart city;' she recalls.
On her return to the Motor City,
near the end of the 19th Century,
Chajes began to make some telephone
Chajes' friend confided.
The life's work of the astonishing- calls, and soon found that any reser-
ly prolific Mozart would require vations she had had about Detroit's
publication of 110 volumes, and willingness to support such a group
editing alone would cost at least were unfounded. In 1959, the first
$500,000, he told her. The foundation Mozart Society in America was
had already received donations from established in Detroit, and "made of-
several European monarchs, along ficial" by Austrian Consul General
with Charles de Gaulle and other Norman Birkrant.
In the ensuing years, through an-
European notables, but no names
from America were on a list of nual concerts held at Grosse Pointe's
War Memorial and through outright
"I told him I would try," says Cha- donations, Chajes and Detroit's Pro-
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS