For the past quarter of a century, Michael Haas has been trying to persuade the Austrian authorities to accept responsibility for the musical lives their country destroyed during and after the Hitler era.
Michael, producer of Decca’s breakthrough Entartete Musik series, has finally won hs case. Here’s what he tells us:
In 2006, Prof. Gerold Gruber of Vienna’s University for Music and Performing Arts (MDW) founded exil.alrte, a society which I co-chair, and is dedicated to the restitution of Europe’s lost musical legacy from the Hitler years.
After some ten years of successful projects, awards and commendations, the in-coming MDW chancellor, Ms Ulrike Sych has allowed us to proceed with plans to establish Europe’s most comprehensive Exile Music, and Performing Arts Centre to be based in the premises of the former Music Academy (the predecessor of the present MDW, most of which is located on a campus some 3 blocks behind the Music Academy Building).
The Centre will called ‘exilarte’ and will offer, among other things, archives and housing for composer estates. We shall be digitising and uploading material, both print and audio, and making it available within the restrictions and wishes of the executors. We intend our centre to be a partner for scholarship and not merely a repository of documentation. The MDW was recently ranked second in the list of performing arts colleges and universities, and with some 4,000 students, we have every motivation of making works available to Europe’s future generation of musicians. We also intend for the Centre to be international and not focussed solely on Austria-Hungary.
The musical legacies of these composers is very much a European artistic legacy and we see exilarte as engaged in an act of cultural restitution. We hope exilarte will facilitate the return of these musical estates and bridge the gap that was left by Hitler’s 12 years of power. The MDW will pay for transport, insurance and incumbent costs in restoration, digitisation and archiving.
The Centre has been given generous space – some 700 sq. metres including climate and humidity controlled storage facilities: reading room; lecture facilities; performance venues etc. It will be located on the ‘beletage’, or principal floor of the historic Music Academy, located in the ‘Academy Wing’ of Vienna’s Konzerthaus. The photo shows the wing adjacent to the Konzerthaus.
This centre should finally takes Austria’s head out of the musical sand (It must be recalled that I could find no partners in Austria for Decca’s “Entartete Musik” series, despite the predominance of Austrian composers covered) and will hopefully place Vienna in the forefront of restoring Europe’s lost musical legacy.