One of the world’s most renowned orchestras, the Berlin Philharmonic, said Tuesday it plans an investigation into its role during the Nazi era. "We’ve never really come to terms with the history of the Philharmonic Orchestra under National Socialism," general manager Pamela Rosenberg said.
A book is to be published this year by Mischa Aster with the cooperation of the 125-year-old orchestra on the period between 1933 and 1945 and above all on the complex relationship that legendary conductor Wilhelm Furtwaengler (photo above) had with top Nazis. An exhibition and a film for public television are also planned.
Furtwaengler was the chief conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic from 1922 until 1945 and again from 1952 until his death in 1954. During the Nazi years, he was able to retain his position with an often deferential attitude toward the regime, which used him as a propaganda tool, while still working to protect his Jewish musicians.
Hungarian director Istvan Szabo adapted the play "Taking Sides" about Fuertwaengler’s denazification trial into a film in 2002 starring Harvey Keitel as a US military officer who interrogates him about his relationship with Adolf Hitler’s Nazi party. The conductor was cleared on all charges but his reputation remained tainted by his proximity to the regime.
From today's European Jewish Press. Now read about the Berlin Philharmonic's darkest hour, the story of Furtwangler and the forgotten new music, and the mystery of the orchestra's first black conductor.
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