Reich's Orchestra : The Berlin Philharmonic 1933-1945 Hardback
by Misha Aster
For decades the relationship between the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and National Socialist regime has been shrouded in mystery.
In 1933, the world-renowned orchestra came under the control of Hitler's Propaganda Minister, Joseph Goebbels; the musicians became civil servants of the Reich and until the end of World War Two, the orchestra served as Germany's flagship cultural ambassador, touring internationally, and performing at the Nuremberg Rallies, the opening of the 1936 Olympic Games and each year on Hitler's birthday. While benefiting from this patronage, the orchestra musicians were ambivalent abouttheir position - some colleagues joined the Nazi Party while others were of Jewish ancestry - and attempted to balance their political status with artistic independence. At the heart of this story is the iconic conductor, Wilhelm Furtwangler, a figure who continues to arouse fierce debate, not the least due to his close relationship withGoebbels.
Furtwangler promised that "the name Wilhelm Furtwangler should alwaysremain inseparable from that of the Philharmonic" and the consequences of this pactare explored comprehensively.
For decades, Furtwangler's successor as Chief Conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic, Herbert von Karajan, a former Party member whose meteoric rise was intimately tied to the intrigues of the Third Reich, discouraged investigation of this disturbing history.Now bringing together documents culled from the orchestra and State archives, as well as private letters and testimony from the orchestra's musicians, Misha Aster tells this remarkable story for the first time.
He portrays how German societyfirst came to be seduced and then morally compromised by Nazism.
Though the Berlin Philharmonic enjoyed exceptional privilege during the years 1933-45, The Reich's Orchestra vividly captures how ordinary Germans experienced the Nazi regime, and how their normal lives were stretched between desperation, fear, reticence and opportunism. The Reich's Orchestra is a remarkable depiction of the moral ambiguities of living under the Nazis told through the story of one of the world's great orchestras.
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