The Reich's Orchestra: The Berlin Philharmonic 1933-1945 Hardcover – 31 Oct 2010
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For many decades, the history of the Berlin Philharmonic during the Third Reich was shrouded in mystery -- an ethical taboo. Aster has finally broken the silence, navigating this terrible era with clarity, insight and sensitivity. The Philharmonic's experiences during its early years as a co--operative, followed by the period under Goebbels' control, were fundamental to shaping both the orchestra's musical culture and its organisational development ever since; the historic personalities and struggles are instantly familiar to the musicians today. With this book, Aster has made an important contribution to the conscience of our orchestra. --Sir Simon Rattle
A revelatory new book that chronicles the horribly close relationship between the most famous orchestra on the planet and the most evil regime the world has ever known. --Richard Morrison, The Times
Reveals the extent to which the orchestra sold out to Hitler s Nazi party, paraded itself before giant swastika backdrops at official Nazi rallies, and allowed itself to become the symbolic flagship of Joseph Goebbel s cultural propaganda... Lays out astonishing truths that had somehow remained suppressed. --The Scotsman
About the Author
Born in Canada in 1978, Misha Aster studied at the London School of Economics, McGill University, Harvard University, and the Free University of Berlin. He has written on music and politics for The Independent, Die Zeit and Walrus Magazine, among others, and as a stage director, has mounted opera productions in both North America and in Europe, most recently at the Konzerthaus in Berlin and the Tyrol State Opera.
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Top Customer Reviews
you'd be forgiven for thinking that there is surely little else that can be said or written about the Third reich, but Misha Aster has done so with a masterful depiction of how the Berlin Philharmonic managed to "survive" Hitler and Co's tyranny.
Nowadays the BP is one of, if not THE, pre-eminent orchestras in the world but in the Thirties and Forties things were much more murky. They were the cultural standard bearers of the Nazi party, performed with giant swastika flags as backdrops and made recordings at the behest of arch propagandist Joseph Goebbels.
Aster's account, which can be tad wordy on occasion, although never patronising or assuming an in depth knowledge of classical music, offers a sympathetic balance between the moral ambiguities of a group of musicians that was to all extent and purposes financially bankrupt trying to make a living,and making ethical compromises to survive.
There is lots to digest in this book. The music that was allowed or not allowed to be played, the political persuasions of its conductors, most notoriously Herbert Von Karajan, and how it survived and indeed flourished after the war.Read more ›
However, the text is dense (as the previous reviewer has noted), and is marred by some modernistic jargon and, worse still, some very poor copy editing (several incomplete sentences) and proof reading (lots of typos; and to give one specific, out of many, examples: on one page, a spelling of 'Nuremberg' in the English and German style, both in the text, not in quotations).
Detailed in the book are the activities of the orchestra both at home and abroad during its Nazi period and the actions of its main conductor Wilhelm Furtwangler. a friend of Goebbels,as he underwent a prolonged denazification trial.
Well written and researched with a good index but apalingly poor pictures