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Vienna Philharmonic to Honor Players Lost in World War II

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VIENNA — When armed forces stormed the State Opera here during a performance of Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin” on March 11, 1938, distinguished players from the Vienna Philharmonic, fled through the back door and would never regain their positions.

The solo bassoonist Hugo Burghauser was faraway from his post as chairman and replaced with Wilhelm Jerger, a member of the Nazi Party. By the subsequent week, all other orchestra members affected by the anti-Jewish Nuremberg Laws had been expelled.

Greater than 80 years later, after the Vienna Philharmonic’s a hundred and eightieth anniversary and before its next Recent Yr’s Concert, the orchestra’s current chairman, Daniel Froschauer, has decided to commemorate the players who were victimized during World War II.

In 2023, Stolpersteine, or “stumbling stones” for the 16 lost members might be laid within the sidewalk in front of their former homes within the Austrian capital. A further stone might be laid for Alma Rosé, daughter of the veteran concert master Arnold Rosé. The tradition of making these small plaques to memorialize victims of the Holocaust began in Germany in 1992. The Philharmonic stones include the name of every player, their position with the orchestra, and when and where they died.

On March 28, a chamber music concert will happen in front of the onetime constructing of the Rosés. Also planned is a concert with the orchestra’s academy on the Theresienstadt ghetto in May.

In a recent interview, Mr. Froschauer recalled arriving on Recent York’s Upper West Side as a student in 1982, violin case in hand, and being greeted enthusiastically by local residents of Austrian Jewish descent. Among the many people he contacted at his father’s behest was Burghauser, who died three months after they spoke by phone.

Mr. Froschauer identified that while Burghauser was fortunate to search out work through the support of the conductor Arturo Toscanini — playing within the Toronto Symphony before joining the NBC Symphony Orchestra after which the ensemble of the Metropolitan Opera — others were left to struggle. Seven members were murdered or died in the course of the war.

“There was something inside me that hadn’t yet been worked out,” Mr. Froschauer said of the hassle to pay tribute to the lost musicians. “This project should a create a consciousness for what these people needed to endure.”

Postwar Vienna was slow to face wartime atrocities. In accordance with Fritz Trümpi, writer of “The Political Orchestra: The Vienna and Berlin Philharmonics Through the Third Reich,” the remaining Vienna players seemed more fascinated by symbolic gestures. With former party members as nearly all of the chief committee into the Nineteen Sixties, the orchestra’s attitude was marked by a type of indifference, he explains in his book, and attempts to ward off responsibility.

“When the query of monetary compensation comes up — pensions, extra pay — the orchestra members dismiss them with at times crude arguments,” Mr. Trümpi said in an interview. “It’s all the more bitter in a situation when someone is sick but told, ‘You’ll receive nothing, you should not here anymore.’”

The Philharmonic granted modest financial support mostly due to “image concerns,” he concluded within the book “Orchestrated Expulsion,” written with Bernadette Mayrhofer. Among the many beneficiaries was the violinist Berthold Salander, who arrived in Recent York a ruined man and never resumed his orchestra activities.

The violinist Ludwig Wittels had to go away his position with the orchestra of the Metropolitan Opera because he had lung cancer. In accordance with “Orchestrated Expulsion,” requests for financial aid from Vienna led to an exchange wherein the orchestra’s chairman and executive director accused him and his wife of “blackmail.” They ultimately granted a sum that was a tiny fraction of the funds allocated for a U.S. tour in 1956. Wittels died in December of that 12 months.

In 1952, seven exiled members of the orchestra were presented with silver medals celebrating its centenary on the Austrian Consulate in Recent York — an event originally planned for 1948. “Overdue,” read the headline in The Recent York Times on Dec. 21.

Efforts to reconcile the orchestra with its ousted members met with resistance on either side. The violinist Dr. Daniel Falk, who lost several close members of the family to the Holocaust, replied to an invite to rejoin the Philharmonic in 1946 that a return would “raise questions” that neither he nor his “adored colleagues” were “within the position to resolve.”

The Argentine-born Ricardo Odnoposoff became an exception, returning to Vienna as a professor in 1956 and appearing as a soloist with the Philharmonic where he once served as concert master. The violinist Leopold Förderl and his wife, Eva, who was Jewish, also returned to their home city, in 1953.

Michael Haas, senior researcher on the Exilarte Center for Banned Music at Vienna’s University of Music and Performing Arts, said that postwar Austria usually was reluctant to welcome back former residents who had the fitting to reparations since it “would have bankrupted the country.” In turn, he continued, the proven fact that Austria emerged from the war “relatively unscathed” can have led to resentment amongst Jewish families.

He said that up to now decade, nonetheless, the Philharmonic had undertaken a “far more honest and sober appraisal” of its history: “I might probably say that we’ve seen the orchestra begin to confront its own past and take care of a few of its issues.”

Mr. Trümpi noted that there was still “a necessity for discussion,” and never only with regard to the history of the Philharmonic. Ms. Mayrhofer, his co-author on “Orchestrated Expulsion,” has estimated that about 100 employees on the State Opera — from stagehands to choristers — were ousted, exiled or murdered after the events of 1938.

Ms. Mayrhofer has also found that Jerger, who took over as chairman in 1938, tried to save lots of five members of the Philharmonic from deportation in 1941, but that his efforts were too late: All of them died within the Holocaust. He did manage, nonetheless, to facilitate the discharge of the violinist Josef Geringer from the Dachau concentration camp in December 1938 (he emigrated to Recent York, passing away in 1979).

The Philharmonic recently acquired the correspondence of the previous concert master Franz Mairecker, who remained in contact with the cellist Friedrich Buxbaum after he emigrated to London (they were close friends and chamber music partners). And Clemens Hellsberger, chairman of the Philharmonic from 1997 to 2014, is updating his 1992 book “Democracy of the Kings,” a history of the orchestra that reckons with World War II and its aftermath.

Mr. Haas said reinstating repertoire by Jewish composers that was performed before the war would represent an extra step in repairing cultural damage. He noted that Meyerbeer’s “Robert le diable” (performed in German as “Robert der Teufel”) was one of the popular works on the Vienna State Opera within the second half of the nineteenth century. He also mentioned Karl Goldmark’s “Könign von Saba” (Queen of Sheba), which premiered there in 1875 and remained in repertoire until December 1937.

The operetta composer Jacques Offenbach, who visited Vienna ceaselessly and inspired Johann Strauss to put in writing “Die Fledermaus,” was also well received before World War II. Operettas in Viennese dialect, equivalent to the works of Edmund Eysler, also thrived.

With the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany in 1938, local traditions were altered to suit antisemitic propaganda. For instance, the National Socialists modified baptismal documents to hide the proven fact that Strauss had a Jewish great-grandfather, while Mr. Trümpi’s research has revealed that greater than 40 percent of the Vienna Philharmonic’s programming from 1940 to 1945 consisted of works by the Strauss dynasty.

On Dec. 31, 1939, a concert with the Vienna Philharmonic performing Strauss works served to support the War Winter Relief Program. After World War II, the tradition continued as a vehicle of hope and joy on the primary day of each 12 months.

This 12 months’s Recent Yr’s Concert includes works by Carl Michael Ziehrer and Franz von Suppé — and Josef Hellmesberger Jr., who along with playing and teaching violin served because the Philharmonic chairman and composed ballets.

Amongst Hellmesberger’s students was Fritz Kreisler, a prodigy who began his conservatory studies at age 7 and emigrated to Recent York in 1938. He had performed as a soloist with each the Vienna and Berlin Philharmonic Orchestras, premiering Elgar’s Violin Concerto in 1910 (an exhibit is currently on view on the Exilarte Center for Banned Music).

Mr. Haas said that “it is barely slowly starting to seep in” to what extent Austrian Jewish musicians contributed to Viennese cultural life. Although there have been also distinguished doctors, scientists and writers, he explained, “music was greater than some other discipline.”

For Mr. Froschauer, laying down the “stumbling stones” for the lost members of his orchestra is a moving opportunity to create awareness concerning the challenges these individuals faced while the remaining of the ensemble was capable of carry on with a level of normalcy.

“One should simply always remember,” he said. “This can be a very late apology and an indication of gratitude for his or her accomplishments.”

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