When trapped in the Polish ghetto, the Jews sing. This is an act of defiance, showing that even in "hell" the Jews would praise God.
Although one might not expect it, music is also part of the life of the concentration camp. Every morning an orchestra plays German military marches. The orchestra plays while the Kommandos pass, marching in step to the tune. After the music ends, the prisoners fall into formation and march off. Eliezer will later describe this music as a "din."
Eliezer meets some of the Jewish orchestra members, who are Jewish prisoners, just as he is. They tell him they are not allowed to play Beethoven, because they are Jews.
One night, Eliezer hears beautiful violin music in the barracks. He wonders what "madman" is playing the violin here, on the "edge of his own grave." He decides it must be Juliek.
Eliezer realizes he is playing a "fragment" of a Beethoven concerto. Eliezer states that
Juliek's soul had become his bow. He was playing his life. His whole being was gliding over the strings. His unfulfilled hopes. His charred past, his extinguished future.
Eliezer thinks it is the most beautiful music he has ever heard. The next morning, he finds Juliek dead, his violin smashed.
What characterizes the two episodes in which the Jews make music, either singing or playing the violin, is defiance. Through daring to worship their God in song or play music forbidden to Jews, they assert their humanity and their right to live fully as creative people with hearts and souls. Their music is a way of pushing back against being categorized as sub-human,
The official music of the camp, in contrast, is meant to regulate and control the prisoners, emphasizing that they must march in lockstep, without individuality.