in memoriam 

Paul Silber


Paul appearing  

Paul ist gegangen.

Am 28. Juni  2022 ist das Ehrenmitglied unseres stimmfeld-Vereins Paul Silber im Alter von 84 Jahren verstorben. 

Paul war für viele Mitglieder des Vereins der erste Lehrer des Roy Hart Theatres und gemeinsam mit seiner Frau Clara Silber-Harris hat er nicht nur unsere Stimmen, sondern auch unsere Lebenswege geprägt. Die Begegnung mit Paul war für viele für uns ein entscheidendes Erlebnis.

Ohne ihn würde es stimmfeld e.V. und das Ensemble KörperSchafftKlang nicht geben. 

Wir sind sehr traurig und zugleich dankbar, dass wir Paul kennen durften. 

Danke Paul! Deine Stimme ist für immer in unseren Ohren und Herzen.

Diese Seite will an Paul erinnern, an seine große Bedeutung für mich und für die Kölner Gemeinde!

Um diesen wichtigen Teil von Pauls Leben und Werk auch für andere zugänglich zu machen, schreibe ich die Erinnerungen auf englisch. 

Ralf Peters, Frühjahr 2023

die Gedenkseite für Paul des Roy Hart Centres :

linkArrow Right Long

Paul has gone.

On 28th of June  2022 the honorable member of stimmfeld-association Paul Silber passed away at the age of 84. For many members of our association Paul has been the first teacher of the Roy Hart Theatre and together with his wife Clara Silber-Harris he not only shaped our voices but our lives. 

Meeting Paul was a crucial experience for many of us.

Without him, stimmfeld e.V. and the ensemble KörperSchafftKlang would not exist. 

We are very sad and at the same time grateful that we were privileged to know Paul. 

Thank you Paul! Your voice is forever in our ears and our hearts.

These memories focuse on Paul´s great impact on me and on the Cologne community. 

Ralf Peters, springtime 2023

the in memoriam website for  Paul of the Roy Hart Centre :

linkArrow Right Long

When I met Paul the first time in a voice workshop in Cologne/Germany it became soon evident to me that here was someone who was able to tell me things that I needed to hear – in a way that made it possible to me to listen and to understand. Paul became my teacher for life and later our relationship developed into a friendship that lasted until the end. Thank you, Paul for your love, your generosity and for being my teacher and my friend. 

Paul & Ralf Port Bou 2021                                                                                            

Paul as a teacher

I remember that he once said to me: All the really important things in life you cannot teach. I think he was right and his way of teaching that was in my experience always supportive and demanding at the same time, shows how much he knew his job as a teacher.

He used all his wild and demanding energies not to force you to do something he had in mind but to give you the chance to make a decision and a „vocal action“ yourself. He wasn´t interested to make you feel comfortable but to bring you in connection with yourself. Not everybody could deal with this form of teaching, but so much people who stood in front of Paul at the piano felt that they were provoked to move closer to some aspect of their self or life or voice that was waiting to be alive for so long (supported by Clara´s integrative strategies). Often a life-changing experience.

And then when you were ready to let your voice be present he enjoyed so much to sing with you. How much versions of summertime have I sang with him? And how much have I heard in a duet with Paul and somebody else? And it was always different, new and touching.

As a teacher Paul was only interested in serious issues, but he knew so well that singing with joy is one of them.

"When we, of the Roy Hart Theatre, talk about 'singing' what do we mean? This is, unfortunately, a difficult question to answer which is why we are not concerned with the normal job of what singing teachers are doing all over the world. For us the word "singing" means vocal action and the object of this vocal action is to recontact us to our intuitive mind, to our body, to remove ourselves a little from our over dependance on our brains, which so often project us into the virtual world of illusion which always ultimately collapses into disillusion and disappointment. The voice resonates within our body and, given enough time and effort, resuscitates our original relationship to our sensory feelings. This can only be achieved through the use of our voice, since the voice is the one real bridge which links our heads to our bodies. By LISTENING to our own sounds coming from our own bodies we can, slowly, retrace our connections back into our feelings and the possibility of expressing them again."

Paul Silber

Paul watching on of the gargoils in his garden - 

made by himself                                                                                                    

Paul and Philosophy

Times went by and after Paul stopped to teach in Malérargues or elsewhere I became a voice teacher myself and started to give workshops at the Roy Hart Center. First with Clara, later with my partner Agnes, with others or  just on my own. During these weeks when I was in Malérargues we met regularly for our “sundowners” on the terrace in front of Rive, Paul and Clara´s house. We both had a drink and talked about all sorts of things but most of the time we ended up to discuss the real subjects: the voice, Roy Hart, our understanding of teaching and of vocal art. I remember especially one year when we together entered a deep discussion about Descartes, the split of mind and body and the consequences for us today who desperately try to find back to a union of body, mind and soul. Soon after he told me that he had read an introduction in Descartes philosophy and we not only continued our debates but even went into the philosophy of Malebranche who developed Descartes ideas into an even more difficult direction. I appreciated these talks with Paul so much because they were not just theoretic. We were always talking about the voice and about SINGING. What is the human voice? What does it mean to sing?

Paul and Köln

When I met Paul the first time in 1995 he and Clara were already coming to Köln since a couple of years to give summer workshop at the Moving Arts,  a studio at Gottesweg at that time. Agnes, my partner in life and art, went to one of these workshops a year before me and she said afterwards to me: I guess this is something that you might like. She was right. 

I remember that I was the first of the participants entering the studio and years later Paul told me that this already has been very impressive for him. He liked being on time, not because of abstract discipline but because Roy Hart said once to him: A voice lesson (or a workshop for that matter) is a rendez-vous with someone very important - yourself. You should not be late for such a meeting. 

I had no idea what to expect from this workshop. I was not an actor or a singer but had just started to work as a radio announcer and was looking for ways to work with my voice in order to learn more about it and about how to „use“ it. I was not prepared to join a voice workshop in order to learn more about myself and my life. But this was what happened and since then I haven´t stopped really with this research of voice and life. 

I returned next summer to their workshop and Agnes and I invited the two for a dinner one evening. In the end we agreed that I will start to organize their work in Köln now, changing dates to autumn and changing studio to the Loft in Ehrenfeld, a place that Paul not only loved for as a workshops place but even more for its concerts. Once he visited a solo concert of Simon Nabatov (Paul loved piano music nearly as much as singing). Until one of the last conversations I had with him he from time to time mentioned Nabatov with appreciation. 

For a couple of years Paul and Clara came to Köln in autumn to give two workshops and I organized a group of people from Köln to travel to the Roy Hart Center in Malérargues/France every easter. I convinced at least half of the members of the choir I attended at that time to do a workshop - including the conductor! And slowly from all the workshop participants a group of people emerged who committed themselves to a serious research into the human voice. This was the beginning of our association stimmfeld e.V. and the voice performance ensemble KörperSchafftKlang.

Paul presenting                                                                                           

   photos by H. Schug

Paul and La Mèmoire

In the first years of the new millennium Paul started to change focus of his activities with and for the voice. Although he never stopped being a teacher he slowly retired from giving workshops and individual singing lessons. 

At the same time he and Clara began to work with the archival material from Alfred Wolfsohn in London, Roy Hart and the Roy Hart Theatre: writings, letters, recordings (most of them still on old audiotapes), photos and a few videos.  These things were partly hidden since ages in some very obscure places at Malérargues. Paul and Clara were the pioneers in creating what is now known as “La mèmoire”, the archives of the Roy Hart Center. Paul started to produce CDs with the audio material and in some productions I was involved because I could help him with the German parts, mainly in the CDs about Alfred Wolfsohn´s work with his students and in the CD “Roy Hart in German” that shows material of Roy´s collaboration with German author Paul Pörtner. 

     „What is normal?“  Paul Silber

Paul the singer

Another new and very important aspect that entered Paul´s life was that he started to give concerts in which he sang his beloved Blues and Standards, accompanied by a pianist. First with his great friend and colleague  Jonathan Hart, then for a while with different musicians before he and Saso Vollmaier found each other. More on that story at the webpage for Paul for the Roy Hart Center.

linkArrow Right Long

In Köln Paul worked with the pianist Bernd Kaftan and they made some beautiful recordings in the “Loft”, the concert hall were Paul and Clara also used to give their workshops. 

Paul speaking during a concert at the Loft in Köln

Paul and Germany

Paul´s father Martin Silber was of German origin. He came to England in the age of 13, sent by his parents who saved him through this tough decision from being murdered by the Nazis. 

When Paul worked regularly in Köln he took the opportunity to find out more about his German ancestors. He went to Berlin to see where his grandparents and his father lived. 23 of his German students ordered to install a trip stone for his grandmother Wally Goldschmidt in front of the house where she and her family lived before the Nazis murdered her. 

Paul connecting

Paul and stimmfeld - association

Although Paul stopped to give workshops he continued to stay in contact with his students in Köln. We invited him (and Clara) to three conferences and festivals that we made in Köln about different aspects of our voice work and they gave a lecture and/or presentation on each of these events. 

In 2008 “Alfred Wolfsohn – the human voice”

was especially important for us because we had just created our association stimmfeld e.V.  Paul gave a lecture about “Alfred Wolfsohn and his pupils in early recordings and documents”. Listening to the lectures of Paul, Clara (and of Sheila Braggins) helped us to understand that we are part of a long and strong story and that there is a legacy to keep and to develop further.

In 2012 we made a big festival “open_voice 2 - Roy Hart: extended voice today”

and once again Paul (and Clara) did not only represent the first generation of students of Roy Hart and of the founding members of the Roy Hart Theatre, he also gave us the feeling that we are continuing a story in which he had played one of the main roles for quite a while. 

In 2017 Paul visited Köln for the last time. We organized a conference in honour of Charlotte Salomon, 100 years after her birthday.

Paul was invited by us to give a lecture or a presentation and he choose the title “Frau Knarre´s poem” which became a free vocal improvisation – free in every sense! We did not know at that time that this was his farewell song to Köln. 

Paul at the festival in Köln/Cologne 2012                                                                                                  

After 2017 there was again a great change in Paul´s life. He and Clara decided to leave Malérargues after more than 40 years and to move to a small village at the Mediterranean Sea at the French border to Spain. There he spent his last years. Sometimes I think the decision of Paul and Clara to move away from the Roy Hart Centre was tougher for me than for them. Malérargues without the sundowners with Paul? So hard to imagine. But in the end we continued to have our sundowners quite regularly, now mostly in a digital form. 

And only now I know what it really means: without Paul…

Paul lecturing                                       (photos by H. Schug)

In the apocryphal Book of Enoch it is said that the most prominent task of the angels in heaven is to SING in order to maintain the harmony of the universe. They seem to have forgotten their tune these days. But now Paul is with them. Teach them to sing again, Paul!

 “You can spread your wings and take to the sky…”

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