Kirill Gerstein hosts seminar on Jewish composers under Hitler

Kirill Gerstein hosts seminar on Jewish composers under Hitler


norman lebrecht

May 11, 2022

At 5pm UK time today the pianist Kirill Gerstein hosts a seminar by Entartete Musick scholar Michael Haas titled ‘German and True’ – the Jewish Composers Banned by the Nazis.

Michael writes: ‘Why was much research and academic discussion focused on the restitution of art banned by the Nazis, followed by complex debates on the merits, or indeed the existence, of “exile literature” by banned writers, while music was essentially ignored? The answer is a complex mixture of where Jewish musicians and composers were on the assimilation trajectory at the time the NSDAP took power and post-war debates on aesthetics and the projection of the democratic west’s “soft power” during the Cold War. To understand these issues, this talk will go back to the important constitutions of Germany and Austria-Hungary that “emancipated” Jews in latter decades of the nineteenth century. It will then trace the rapid rise in European musical life of Jewish composers and addresses the commonly held belief that Jews represented the most alienating elements within the twentieth century avant-garde. Finally, it offers the context of Jewish contribution with the pluralistic musical life in the first half of the of the twentieth century.’

The info is here:


  • Barry Guerrero says:

    Of the Jewish composers who were given some exposure on Decca’s Entartete series of recordings, I’ve become particularly fond of Franz Schrecker and Irwin Schulhoff.

    • gareth says:

      If anything deserves a re-release as an integral box set, it’s Decca’s “Entartete Musik” series. Some real gems in there.

  • esfir ross says:

    What’re names of Jewish composers? Does it include Boris Blacher that survived in Berlin under Hitler? Or Boris Goltz that died in combat at Russian front? We have respect all, their music good by itself.

  • John Borstlap says:

    Great initiative. There are so many excellent and interesting composers from that time which were eclipsed for the 2nd time after WW II for not belonging to the postwar modernist movement. First they were buried under terrorism and forced into emigration, and then shuffled under the carpet by the other type of totalitarian ‘thought’.

  • Bill Ecker says:

    This program should be taken internationally. So many important composer’s and musicians careers were ended, buried or changed due to the Nazi’s. In my professional career as a music archive appraiser, mainly for composers, some Jewish immigrants of this time period who came to the U.S., you can literally see the marked changes in their productivity from 1933 through the end of the War. Some work through it unchanged, some changed their careers and went to work for the music departments of the Hollywood studios, some went to teach and their productivity of their creative side never recovered and some just ended their careers as composers. A few names like: Schreker, Krenek (not Jewish but falls into this pot) and Korngold are still remembered, but so many unjustifiably who wrote beautiful and or original music fell into oblivion. (Not to mention Jewish composers of the recent former generations like Friedrich Gernsheim who wrote spectacular symphonies and chamber works….go to YouTube to hear some.) I for one am grateful that Gerstein is doing this.