My great, great, great, great grandfather was a composer called Pesach who was also well-known for his deep singing voice. There is a monument to him in Vienna. My grandfather was a cafe entertainer there and had a place called Cafe Budapest.
My father came to England as a refugee at the age of 12 in 1938. He later joined the Scottish regiment, changed his name to Bobby Fryer and later settled in Oxford. He worked in the Cowley car plant and dedicated his life to trade union activities. My mother, Margaret, was Welsh and taught in Oxford’s Blackbird Leys estate.
My father had a huge collection of classical music. Music was an ever-present aspect of life in the family home. This inheritance of music and of a European family have had a profound influence on my life.
In 1975 I was meeting my European relatives, some for the first time. In Budapest I’d been staying with my grandfather, he said I should go and meet his sister. She was living in a tenement block, an old council house in Vienna. I introduced myself to my great aunt, who was a survivor of Auschwitz. She took me to a cemetary, where my family lies buried, and started laying eight stones, a Jewish tradition, one for each family member who dies in the Holocaust. She started wailing and that sound stayed in my mind. The memory of the sound can be found on “Erzsi’s Lament” which can be found in different versions on “Songlines’ and ‘Flute Dreams’.
The title piece of my CD ‘Giselle’ is a portrait of my grandmother who escaped the Holocaust by fleeing from Vienna to Budapest. Not only that but she saved money to help other members of the family to flee too. Although Giselle survived, eight other family members died in various concentration camps. My European roots are a source of inspiration and sadness.