Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Orchestral honor and dishonor in the time of the Nazis

The Vienna Philharmonic is once again acknowledging its Nazi past (to an extent). It has opened up its archive (to some people), granting access to independent researchers (for a certain period of time).

Orchestral honor and dishonor in the time of the Nazis

The Vienna Philharmonic is once again acknowledging its Nazi past (to an extent). It has opened up its archive (to some people), granting access to independent researchers (for a certain period of time).

The orchestra not only contained many members of the Nazi party and two in the SS during the war, but the Philharmonic also presented a coveted honor to a convicted Nazi - two decades after the end of World War II.

That was then, and this is now? Most striking is this current response from the orchestra about its responsibilities going forward:

The Vienna Philharmonic's current chairman, Clemens Hellsberg, told Reuters the orchestra would now have to take a democratic decision as to whether to revoke the awards it made to the Nazis during that period.

Is it possible to look at any of this as anything but too little too late?

Peter Dobrin Inquirer Classical Music Critic
About this blog

Peter Dobrin is a classical music critic and culture writer for The Inquirer. Since 1989, he has written music reviews, features, news and commentary for the paper, covering such topics as the Philadelphia Museum of Art at the Venice Biennale, expansion of the Curtis Institute of Music, the Philadelphia Orchestra's bankruptcy declaration in 2011, Philadelphia's evolving performing arts center and the general health of arts and culture.

Dobrin was a French horn player. He earned an undergraduate degree in performance from the University of Miami, and received a master's degree in music criticism from the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, where he studied with Elliott Galkin. He has no time to practice today.

Reach Peter at pdobrin@phillynews.com.

Peter Dobrin Inquirer Classical Music Critic
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