Nazi-era composer gets his name taken off school

The town of Augsburg in Bavaria is planning to rename the Werner Egk primary school.

Egk, who died in 1983, was one of the useful idiots who served the Nazi regime by writing music for propaganda purposes. He was not the worst. To his credit, Egk refused a demand to write music that would replace Mendelssohn’s for A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Goebbels wrote in his diary that Hitler was enthusiastic about Egk’s opera, Peer Gynt.

But Egk never joined the party or entertained its leaders.

After the War, he enjoyed success in Germany, but nowhere else.

As Andre Previn memorably declared of one of his celebrated German contemporaries, ‘Fidelio Finke, where are you now?’

Maybe it’s time to stop erasing the already forgotten?


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  • And where was this political correctness when scumbag Koskie wore a Stalin T-shirt in Berlin?

    Stalin was responsible for more murders than Hitler.

    • Remember: Left = Good; Right = Bad. Repeat until you cannot think otherwise. Yours sincerely, The EU Ministry of Love.

      • Yes and remember: Berlin ≠ Bavaria and Comparing the two = misguided at best.
        And unless Bavaria has suddenly since this morning turned into a radical leftist hotbed, run by ultra-liberal firebrands, you might wish to rethink the reasoning/responsible party behind renaming the school.

      • The curious thing is that the more extreme you go either to the left or the right, you arrive at the same totalitarian place.

      • John, can you explain to me in two phrases how is it: Left=Good? ;-)))) Must be possible, so funny it is.

          • If only you were capable of thought. But then again, at least you don’t bother the rest of us here by ever posting anything about music – so at least we should count our blessings.

    • Stalin didn’t military invaded Europe. Shostakovich, Prokofiev and other Soviet composers wrote music for propaganda under Stalin regime but not panish by history.

  • ‘Egk’ was a pseudonym, using the first letters of his wife’s name, but there is also a story that the letters stood for ‘Ein Grosser Künstler’.

    • there is no proof for that, anyway. And also other composeres (like Vermeulen) were treated badly in their times ..

      • Vermeulen is an interesting case. He was also a music critic and made enemies in this capacity. I’ve been very impressed with some of his music….it needs to be heard live more frequently. Haitink recorded one of the Symphonies when his repertoire included contemporary music.

  • Not sure what to make of this decision. After all Hitler also loved Lehár’s ever popular “Die lustige Witwe” and I don’t believe any controversies have arisen on staging the work. Never mind the undisputed Nazi Carl Orff and his equally ever popular “Carmina Burana”. For the curious, an audio only recording of Egk’s Peer Gynt.

    In-house recording

    Peer Gynt – Hermann Becht
    Solveig – Lilian Sukis
    Aase – Astrid Varnay
    Ingrid – Marianne Seibel
    Mads – Ferry Gruber
    Der Alte – Horst Hiestermann
    Die Rothaarig – Cheryl Studer
    Drei Kaufleute – Friedrich Lenz, Raimund Grumbach, Hermann Sapell
    Der Praesident – Karl Christian Kohn
    Drei Vogel – Carmen Anhorn, Monika Schmitt, Helena Jungwirth
    Ein Unbekannter – Kieth Engen
    Ein Hoftroll – David Thaw
    Der Haegstadtbauer – Gerhard Auer
    Der Schmied – Hermann Sapell
    Der Vogt – Hans Wilbrink
    Seine Frau – Zofia Lis
    Ein alter Mann – Georg Paskuda
    Ein Bedienter – Walter Gabriel
    Ein Troll – Carmen Anhorn
    Drei Maedchen – Angela Feeney, Alison Browner, Judith Zelson
    Zwei Burschen – Yaron Windmueller, Gerhard Haeusler

    9 February 1982, Munich, National Theater, Chor der Bayerischen Staatsoper, Bayerisches Staatsorchester, Wolfgang Sawallisch

  • very important words, thanks for that: it s time to stop erasing history ! Werner Egk is not forgotten at all (he conducted the german premiere of Stravinskys Symphony in three movements). His operas would be played much more if the german journalists and Intendants would not censor the music from the 30s and 40s out of the concerts and theatres. it is a crime and an immense fault NOT to play the music of two decades! Pfitzner is an important composer, so is Wolfgang Fortner. (By the way Fidelio Finke is a very interesting Composer). With all respect to Andre Previn: Rudi Stephan, Norbert von Hannenheim, Hugo Distler and many, many other highly interesting composers are forgotten (for very different reasons) – and should be considered as important figures. Andre Previn shouldn’t jugde a composer’s quality by his fame. i personally am not such a huge fan of Egks Music (a part from some really interesting early works) – but there shouldn’t be any censorship in arts.

    • hey! I’m actually looking for information about Finke. Can you point me in the right direction? I can’t find much online but am curious to learn more.

    • That is just truly good, thorough German music, traditional, a bit neoclassical and neomahlerian, with a touch of Hindemith, but whith a personal signature, and very well-made. Such people completely spoiled what had been left of tradition by their opportunistic collaborations with the nazi regime. Now such music has thoroughly unpleasant associations which have nothing to do with the music in itself. Even a perfectly anti-nazi composer like Walter Braunfels, who saw his brilliant career evaporating in the thirties, tried again after the war, but was then condemned for ‘not being modern enough’ – but surely his ‘oldfashioned’ style reminded too many people of composers like Egk and Finke.

    • Five years from now, Previn’s music will be totally obscure. He was a great musician, a good conductor, a wonderful pianist, but a very mediocre composer.

  • At first sight it seems like over-reach but there can’t be a shortage of more-deserving and better-role-model Bavarians who might be memorialized in this way.

    Or is there?

    I wonder what the premise was for naming it after Egk?

    • There is no over-reach, as the decision to rename the school – contrary to the description in the thread’s introduction – was not made by “the town of Augsburg” but by the parents and teachers of the school themselves.

      “I wonder what the premise was for naming it after Egk?”
      According to the current principal, a former, music-loving principal of the school requested the school be named for Egk in 1994. Egk had gown up in Oberhausen, where the school is located.

      • If that is what the students and parents wanted, it sounds okay to me. Still, is he really that much more condamnable than Richard Strauss?

        At the same time, there is no shortage of Rosa-Luxemburg-Schools in Germany, and she certainly was a certified hate peddlar who opposed elections and advocated armed resurrection *after* the German revolution of 1918.

        • The argument for the renaming, given by parents and teachers, was that if a school is named after/for someone, those who attend it should understand why and also grasp that person’s place in history.
          As the school is an elementary school, the prevailing argument was that kids at that age lacked the maturity to actively engage in and grasp WW2 related topics with the sufficient depth, especially as it relates to people and their decisions and motives during that time. Essentially, had this been a secondary school, the name would have remained unchanged.

  • Do not forget the opera “Die Zaubergeige” after Brother Grimms “Der Jude im Dornbusch” (The Jew Among Thorns) an antisemitic fairy-tale and his music to the NS-propaganda-movie “Jungens” (1941) about Hitlerjugend-adventures where to Egk’s “Marsch der deutschen Jugend” minors are marching under NS-symbols. You can see it here marching and here the whole village and HJ singing So it’s a good reason to re-name the elementary-school in Augsburg. Egk had hugh talent but he sold his soul to the regime to mislead the youth with his music in the hands of the Nazis.

  • Egk’s ‘La tentation de Saint Antoine’ is a very interesting composition, as we can easily verify in the DG recording, with no other than Janet Baker as soloist. Surely not the work of an idiot.

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