Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Among the gods entering Valhalla


The fascist and racist sympathies of conductor Reginald Goodall were the subject of yesterday's post, The flawed genius of Valhalla. From 1940 to 1943 Goodall was the principal conductor and driving force of the Wessex Philharmonic. This orchestra was based in Bournemouth in the west of England and had links with the London Philharmonic. There is a delicously ironic story from Goodall's time with the Wessex Philharmonic which ought to be read by those currently championing Goodall in connection with "defending the cultural, ethnic, and racial interests of Western European peoples". Here is John Lucas' account in his soon to be republished biography of the conductor -
Many of the orchestra's concerts at the time were promoted by the impressario Harold Fielding, who in the winter of 1942 mounted "International Music Weeks" in Croydon, Bradford and Blackpool. At Blackpool there were eight concerts in all. Goodall conducted four of them, and a fifth was conducted by Anatole Fistoulari. (See photo below; he was born in Kiev, Ukraine, and became the fourth husband of Gustav Mahler's daughter Anna - Pliable)


The third conductor for the Blackpool week was Rudolph Dunbar (seen in header photo - Pliable). Born in British Guiana, he was the first black conductor to work with the London Philharmonic and London Symphony Orchestras; he was also London correspondent of the Associated Negro Press of America. Dunbar's programme of Weber, Coleridge-Taylor and Dvořák was punctuated with appearances by the popular piano duettists Rawicz and Landauer (both of Jewish ancestry, they are seen in the photo below - Pliable), who played among other things the Warsaw Concerto and a selection from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
In 1945 Reginald Goodall conducted the first performance of Britten's Peter Grimes in London. In the same year in Germany Rudolph Dunbar conducted the Berlin Philharmonic, an orchestra Goodall was never to lead. Read the full story of the Berlin Philharmonic's first black conductor here.


There is a wonderful photo of Rudolph Dunbar conducting the Berlin Philharmonic, but sadly (shamefully?) it cannot be reproduced here as the copyright is owned by Corbis, which in turn is owned by Bill Gates, who requires a royalty for reproduction. How sad that such a valuable document about an important figure should have fallen into the hands of an intellectual property speculator. Yes, I know I defend copyright for music. But at least, in general, the people whose hard work created the intellectual property benefit from music copyright protection. But anyway, 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 errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk

8 comments:

Pliable said...

Email received:

Wasn’t John Eliot Gardiner’s father associated with English Fascism? At least in this case the sins of the father were not passed onto the son.

Cheers

David Cavlovic

Pliable said...

Nice path David, here is the link -

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rolf_Gardiner

Garth Trinkl said...

Yes, it is sad that you could not include the wonderful picture of Rudolph Dunbar conducting the Berlin Philharmonic in 1945.
It would have complemented the other photos in your post very nicely, in my view.

I also thought I'd point out the caption in the link which refers to Dunbar about to travel to conduct a four concert festival of American music in Paris.

I'd love to have the time to find the content of those programs ... and to see those concerts recreated today by another younger American conductor in Berlin, Paris, Washington, D.C. and Detroit?

*

"A global tribute to Michael Jackson on the grounds of a 17th century palace in Vienna will be held Sept. 26, and Jackson’s brother Jermaine will announce the concert lineup soon, organizers said Wednesday."

via PlayEars.com

JMW said...

That picture is incredibly evocative. What a shame it's under wraps. I'm surprised the BPO doesn't publish it widely. That is the sort of iconic image many people need to see. Thank you for these fascinating paths.

Pliable said...

About the archive that contains the Rudolph Dunbar photo -

Issues arising from this sale regarding the restriction of access to the collection were described in the editorial "Goodbye to All That" in American Heritage magazine, May 2001, p. 5.

Source -

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bettmann_Archive

Pliable said...

Here is the original article -

http://www.americanheritage.com/articles/magazine/ah/2001/3/2001_3_5.shtml

Garth Trinkl said...

Pliable, I know that this is another path, but I can't help but adding this paragraph that I found when I clicked on your Dean Dixon link in the upper right of your blog:

"At the age of 26 [Dean] Dixon became the youngest conductor to lead the then New York Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra, and in 1941 he conducted the NBC Symphony in the orchestra's summer season. He made many recordings of American contemporary music including Henry Cowell's Symphony No. 5, Edward McDowell's Indian Suite, and Douglas Moore's Symphony in A with electronic resources for the the American Recording Society label."

I hope some musician and scholar can track down whether or not there might perhaps have been some overlap in the American classical music programming and recording of Rudolph Dunbar and Dean Dixon in the middle of the twentieth century.

Thanks.

Sergio said...

I agree what a wonderful photo of Dunbar, It really ought to be circulated everywhere