Sunday, October 08, 2006

The Pope has another Regensburg moment

'The chanting of the Regensburger Domspatzen has accompanied me since my early youth. It was in the Mozart year of 1941 that I was allowed to hear this great choir in Salzburg for the first time. The splendidly sung soprano solo of the Laudate Dominum as well as the joyful soprano duet between allegro and adagio from Der Schauspieldirektor remains unforgettably engraved in my memory' - writes the Holy Father Pope Benedict of wartime Salzburg in a personal message in the liner notes of Universal Music's recently released Concert for Pope Benedict XVI sung by the Regensburger choir.

Meanwhile in his 1951 book, Toscanini, Howard Taubman explains that others were less enamoured of Salzburg - 'In 1936 the Austrian Government, which was still trying to live with the Nazi Government in Germany, had cooked up a plan for an exchange of broadcasts. The Salzburg operas were to be sent to Germany by air, and the Bayreuth operas were to be broadcast to Austria. The performances led by Bruno Walter were not to be transmitted from Salzburg, since the Nazis did not wish to have music conducted by a man of Jewish antecedents. When Toscanini heard of this plan he sat on it hard. Broadcast any Salzburg performances to Germany, he told Austrian officials, and he would leave the festival for good. The scheme was dead. Naturally, the Nazis retaliated. They declined to let certain German singers appear in Salzburg, and there were last-minute problems.

In his orchestral performances Toscanini had taken pains to include music by Mendelssohn, which was under Nazi ban in Germany. This, too, had been no accident. It followed then as the day followed night that Toscanini would turn his back on Salzburg the moment the Nazis moved on Austria.
On the day Hitler's troops and armour rolled into Vienna - Toscanini was then in New York at the head of the NBC Symphony - he was scheduled to conduct a rehearsal. He took his place on the podium in Studio 8H in Radio City wearing an agonized look. He conducted for a few moments and then ostensibly took offence at something that happened in the orchestra. He turned and fled into his dressing-room. There he barred the door to family and friends. He threw score on the floor, turned over chairs, kicked the table, tore at his clothes and wept. For hours he went through this solitary lamentation. It was not the rehearsal that had upset him, but the blow to free men in the loss of Austria to Hitler'.


As well as a greeting and signature from the Pope the beautifully sung Concert for Pope Benedict XVI also contains the Sanctus from the Mass L'Anno Santo composed by Georg Ratzinger, a former director of the Regensburger Domspatzen, and brother of the Pope. This CD is not going to make it onto Sequenza21, but other 20th century composers whose compositions are featured include Carl Thiel (who in a fascinating bit of contemporary music trivia was actually a student of Schoenberg in Berlin, but is remembered today for his setting of the 18th century carol Adeste fidelis - O Come, All Ye Faithful which is included in the concert), and the Italian priest Lorenzo Perosi.

Despite (or perhaps because of?) the terrible events taking place, the year of the 14 year old future Pope's visit to Salzburg was an extraordinarily creative time for new music. The compositions from 1941 include Honegger's Second Symphony, Shostakovich's Seventh Symphony 'Leningrad', Howard Hanson's Third Symphony, Britten's 'Paul Bunyan', Poulenc's Exultate Deo & Salve Regina, Martinu's Concerto da Camera for Violin and String Orchestra with Piano and Percussion, Eisler's Variations for Piano, Hindemith's Sonata for Trombone, and Copland's Piano Sonata. But in addition to this list two of the 20th century's musical masterpieces were created in 1941. Olivier Messiaen's 'Quartet for the End of Time' for piano, clarinet, cello, and violin was written, and premiered, while the composer (left) was a prisoner in the Stalag VIIIA concentration camp, in Görlitz, Germany. In 1938, the shooting of a German diplomat in Paris by a 17 year old Polish Jew, made desperate by the Nazi persecution of his race in general and his family in particular, led to one of the most terrible pogroms of Jews - the infamous Kristallnacht. These events inspired Michael Tippett to write his oratorio 'A Child of Our Time' which was completed in 1941. Two years later Tippett was sentenced to three months' imprisonment for refusing, as a pacifist, to comply with conditions of exemption from active war service.

1941 was also the year Joseph Ratzinger, later to become Pope Benedict XVl, joined the Hitler Youth, shortly after membership was made compulsory. He quickly won a dispensation on account of his training at a seminary. “Ratzinger was only briefly a member of the Hitler Youth and not an enthusiastic one,” concluded John Allen, his biographer. Two years later Ratzinger was enrolled in an anti-aircraft unit that protected a BMW factory making aircraft engines. The workforce included slaves from Dachau concentration camp. And before the emails start - there is no suggestion that he was involved in any atrocities. Ratzinger has insisted he never took part in combat or fired a shot — adding that his gun was not even loaded — because of a badly infected finger. He was sent to Hungary, where he set up tank traps and saw Jews being herded to death camps. He deserted in April 1944 and spent a few weeks in a prisoner of war camp. He has said that although he was opposed to the Nazi regime, any open resistance would have been futile. The photo above shows Joseph Ratzinger circa 1940.

1941 was the 150th anniversary of the death of Mozart. Other notable events included:

* January 23 - Charles Lindbergh testifies before the U.S. Congress and recommends that the United States negotiate a neutrality pact with Adolf Hitler.
* February 19 - the start of the "three nights' Blitz" over Swansea, South Wales. Over three nights of intensive bombing Swansea town centre was almost completely obliterated by the 896 high explosive bombs dropped by the Luftwaffe causing 397 casualties and 230 deaths.

* April 6 - Germany invades Yugoslavia and Greece
* April 12 - German troops enter Belgrade
* May 20 - Battle of Crete - Germany launches airborne invasion of Crete
* May 27 - German battleship Bismarck is sunk in North Atlantic killing 2,300
* June 22 - Germany attacks the Soviet Union in Operation Barbarossa
* July 4 - Mass murder of Polish scientists and writers, committed by German troops in captured Polish city of Lwów
* July 31 - Holocaust: Under instructions from Adolf Hitler, Nazi official Hermann Göring, orders SS general Reinhard Heydrich to "submit to me as soon as possible a general plan of the administrative material and financial measures necessary for carrying out the desired final solution of the Jewish question."
* August 22 - German Occupation Authority announces that anyone found either working for or aiding the Free French will be sentenced to death.
* September 6 - Holocaust: The requirement to wear the Star of David with the word "Jew" inscribed (above), is extended to all Jews over the age of 6 in German-occupied areas.
* September 8 - Siege of Leningrad begins - German forces begin a siege against the Soviet Union's second-largest city, Leningrad. Stalin orders the Volga Deutsche deported to Siberia.
* December 7 (December 8 in Japan standard time) - Japanese Navy launches a surprise attack consisting of two full regiments on the United States fleet at Pearl Harbor, thus drawing the United States into World War II.
* December 8 - The United States officially declares war on Japan.


1941 timeline from Wikipedia. Joseph Ratzinger biographical material from Sunday Times. Any copyrighted material on these pages is included as "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Report broken links, missing images and other errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk
If you enjoyed this post take An Overgrown Path to France says "No" - with a little help from Father Joe

1 comment:

Garth Trinkl said...

Thank you very much, Pliable, for this post. I learned as much new information from it -- especially its Lwow link -- as I learned from a three hour visit to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, last week.