Love and Loss Set to Music During the Holocaust

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This article appeared in the May 5th edition of the New York Times. It is yet another poignant story from the Holocaust and one with a few references to the music of Bruckner, who through no actions of his own, was intrinsically and culturally linked to the barbarism of the National Socialist regime in Germany.

To read the article, click here.

Now, a note about the recordings mentioned in the article:

At first reading, this article didn't seem to hold any surprises, but then a careful reader noticed the date of the broadcast of the Hans Knappertsbusch recording of the Bruckner Symphony No. 4. Some checking with the Deutsche Rundfunkarchiv (DRA) in Frankfurt produced a listing of this 1944 broadcast series. Indeed, the Bruckner 4th was broadcast on April 9, 1944.

The listing confirmed that the Tristan performance was broadcast during the Sunday concert of April 2, 1944. That performance was recorded on May 15-19 of 1943. But the Bruckner concert broadcast the following week (April 9, 1944) and performed by Hans Knappertsbusch and the Berlin Philharmonic was shown to be recorded (according to the DRA) on September 8, 1944 - a full five months later!!!

The DRA dated this recording as September 8, 1944 since the papers that documented the transfer of these historic Reich Radio Gesellschaft (RRG) recordings back to Germany from the former U.S.S.R. indicated that date. But now it was becoming increasingly clear that this date - which had been linked to this recording for years - might be incorrect.

Further research into the archives of the Berlin Philharmonic revealed that Knappertsbush rehearsed and performed the Bruckner 4th on March 10, 1944 and that the RRG recorded both the rehearsal and performance. That date was before the documented April 9th broadcast. Furthermore the Philharmonic's archive shows that the Orchestra was being led by Rudolf Kressalt on September 8th.

Given this information, the Deutsche Rundfunkarchive officially changed the date of the Knappertsbush Berlin Philharmonic recording of the Bruckner Symphony No. 4 to March 10, 1944. It has now been changed in this discography.

A Fanfare using Bruckner's Symphony No. 3 (performed by Eugene List) has been preserved (listen), but that Fanfare was recorded in 1937 for the "Day of German Art" broadcasts. It is also taken from the opening theme of the first movement. The fanfare for the 1944 broadcasts is said to be taken from the third movement. No copy is known to exist.

My thanks to Edwin Banta and George Zepos for bringing this to my attention.