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"Like all the millions of others, they died for nothing, for nothing."

George Dreyfus was born in 1928 in the Rhenish town of Elberfeld, which one year later merged with Barmen to form the town of Wuppertal. In view of the increasing persecution of the Jews, the family moved to Berlin in 1935. However, hopes for greater security in the capital proved to be deceptive until the November pogroms of 1938 finally forced them to leave the country. In the summer of 1939, eleven-year-old George Dreyfus came to Australia on a Kindertransport; his parents followed shortly afterwards. The father tried to start a new life in Melbourne by cleaning carpets. His son learned to play the clarinet while at school. From 1947 he turned to the bassoon and one year later he became a bassoonist in an opera company. After the father's early death, the mother received reparations from Germany and was able to use the money to buy a new bassoon for her son. After further training, George Dreyfus became an orchestral musician in Perth and Melbourne from 1956 until he decided in 1965 to end this activity.

By imitating other works, he had become a self-taught composer. While his first pieces were still very traditional, from 1961 Dreyfus oriented himself towards the European avant-garde. Well-paid film music assignments then enabled him to build up an existence as a freelance composer. Dreyfus soon excelled with operas and symphonies. His sextet for didgeridoo and wind instruments became particularly well known. After difficulties with the Australian opera business, he created the operas "Rathenau" and "The Marx Sisters" for Germany, which premiered in Kassel and Bielefeld.