History Music

White Rose Elegy

Sometimes events are both tragic and inspiring.

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Elegy: a song or poem expressing sorrow or lamentation especially for one who is dead.


White Rose Elegy is a composition for brass quintet written by trumpet player Caleb Hudson who performs with the Canadian Brass, one of the world’s premier brass ensembles. Have a listen:

White Rose Elegy, Caleb Hudson

NOTE: Embeds sometimes fail to work so here’s the link:

For me, this composition evokes feelings of sadness, longing, tragedy, and—at the end—a sense of repose and quiet. But it’s the tragedy I’d like to focus on now because of the story behind the composition.

White Rose was a German anti-Nazi group formed in 1942 by students at Stuttgart University in Munich. Advocates of non-violent resistance, they published a series of essays of their beliefs distributed as leaflets throughout Munich. The leaders were five students (and one professor), including Hans Scholl, his sister Sophie Scholl, Alexander SchmorellWilli Graf, and Christoph Probst.

On February 18, 1943, the core group was arrested. Four days later, on February 22, 1943, Hans, Sophie, and Christoph were executed by guillotine. Part of the tragedy was that they knew the Gestapo were closing in and decided to do one final leaflet distribution prior to fleeing the country. Eventually, dozens of White Rose members were arrested. Many were executed or imprisoned.

This type of extraordinary willingness to risk and ultimately sacrifice one’s own life for a just cause is indeed inspirational. I presume the composer was equally inspired.


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By sbaptista

I talk to myself in public.

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1 year ago

Thank you for sharing this beautiful White Rose Elegy back story and Canadian Brass presentation – such a beautiful yet sorrowful work. I couldn’t help but think of these self-sacrificing individuals sharing ‘light’ in the face of the lethal Nazi darkness… and reflect on how far I would go when faced with such a death threat…

1 year ago
Reply to  Greg

Greg, I’m glad you found this post. I happened to come across the recording on YouTube and was struck by how beautiful and sad it was. I was intrigued by the composition’s title and that’s when I discovered the story.