Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Sour Note to Start the New Year


On January 1st, 1939, the Vienna Philharmonic orchestra gave its first New Year's Concert. Austria having joined (or having been joined to if you prefer) the Third Reich the previous year, it seemed an historic occasion, perhaps the herald of a triumphant future for the Germanic people. We all know now that was not to be. And for more than seven decades, the Vienna Philharmonic has distanced itself from the Nazis through silence. That is until this year, when the organization revoked honorary awards it had given to various Nazi officials during the era of the Third Reich. Quoting this article:

The orchestra's members voted unanimously to revoke the rings of honor and Nicolai medals it awarded to six high-ranking Nazi leaders, said Vienna historian Oliver Rathkolb, who has worked with the orchestra to document its past.
About half the Philharmonic's musicians were Nazi party members by 1942, four years after Hitler's annexation of Austria, and 13 musicians with Jewish origins or relations were driven out of the orchestra. Five died in concentration camps.

I was unable to determine why the Vienna Philharmonic would be handing out rings or medals to anyone in the first place. It seems kind of a strange practice. Perhaps it is to recognize donors? At any rate, this is all just another whimpering betrayal of the Volk- oh, but here is one more:

The Jan. 1, 2014, concert will be led by Israeli conductor Daniel Barenboim.

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