Fabio Luisi denounces ‘completely unacceptable’ ECHO award

The Zurich Opera music director has joined the rush of musicians who are giving back their ECHO awards after the 2018 prize was given to a pair of rappers making Holocaust jokes. ‘They have mocked the suffering of millions of people,’ he says.

Here’s his letter:

Zürich, 18. April 2018

Im Jahr 2009 wurde ich gemeinsam mit der Staatskapelle Dresden für die Einspielung von Bruckners 9. Sinfonie mit dem ECHO Klassik ausgezeichnet. Das war eine große Ehre für das Orchester und für mich. Heute dagegen muss ich mich, wie andere Kolleginnen und Kollegen auch, in aller Deutlichkeit von diesem Preis distanzieren. Die Verleihung des Echos an die Rapper Kollegah und Farid Bang ist in meinen Augen völlig inakzeptabel. Die beiden Musiker haben nicht einfach eine Grenze überschritten oder im Rahmen der künstlerischen Freiheit provoziert, sondern sie haben die furchtbaren Erfahrungen von Millionen Menschen während des Nationalsozialismus verhöhnend in ihren Texten verarbeitet. Es ist erschütternd festzustellen, dass ein Kulturpreis keinerlei ethische Massstäbe kennt, Rassismus und ignorante Inhalte toleriert und sogar auszeichnet, wenn nur die Umsatzzahlen stimmen.

So gerne ich den Preis damals als eine Würdigung unserer Arbeit und als eine Auszeichnung für künstlerische Leistungen verstanden habe, so wenig möchte ich heute mit einem solchen Preis ausgezeichnet sein. 
Fabio Luisi, Generalmusikdirektor des Opernhauses Zürich


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  • Well done! That said, I am not in the least surprised to see such a well articulated letter from Mr. Luisi.

    • Very true. We should not be surprised by Maestro Luisi’s stance. How sad that we are condtioned to accept less from others. Again, bravo!

  • “My body is more defined than those of Auschwitz inmates.” doesn’t read as anti Semitic to me and the song was apparently popular in Germany and the rappers say aren’t racist and being taken out of context- so maybe Luigi just pandering to large Jewish donor base from met opera days and outreach to “condemn “ by Jewish groups that no doubt contacted him and others suggesting return – it sounds like a typical rap lyric except in US any allusions to Jewish (and please holocaust victims not just Jews and gross to forget others) verboten

        • What about “Mache wieder mal ‘nen Holocaust, komm’ an mit dem Molotow”? Still no trace of antisemitism in your view?

          • Better if you put the English quote but no, it’s obviously analogy (“I’m going medieval on your a** per Tarantino) not at all directed to Jews – you seem to think no reference to the holocaust can be made (opposite of never forgetting), no analogies drawn (yet nazism – you are a holocaust nazi, ie rule driven, like soup nazi) somehow exception – it is certainly not hate speech and artists perhaps shouldn’t be so censored (frigid warning to others referencing holocaust verboten – even just saying I’m skinny as an Auschwitzer – maybe this is the case in Germany but since these were popular previously released songs murky

          • In perspective: the holocaust claimed the lives of about 6,000,000 Jews.

            Do we really need to perform intellectual somersaults and deconstruct the lyrics, when it is otherwise pretty obvious that some of their lines glorify the holocaust?

    • Of course the Jews are not the only victims of the Holocaust, but I think such lyrics ” Make a Holocaust again and come on with the Molotov! ” obviously lacks respect for all the victims.

  • Very well worded by Maestro Luisi. It is indeed shocking to witness, how the people in charge, including a full ‘ethics commission’, failed completely to prevent this easily avoidable PR and moral disaster. Asleep at the wheel?

    • I don’t think so. If they were asleep at the wheel, they should have waken up screaming. Seeing bigotism have institutional defenders both in the arts and in politics (pace Trump) is extremely disturbing.

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