German Orchestras, the ‘Volksgemeinschaft’ and the Persecution of the Jews 1933-1945

11. April 2019 19:00

Neil Gregor

This lecture examines the ways in which antisemitism manifested itself in German concert life during the Nazi era. Drawing on a wide variety of examples ranging from prestige civic institutions such as the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra to small provincial theatre orchestras, it examines how the social practice of the symphony concert became infected with the racist agendas of the National Socialist movement. It also notes, however, the presence of other social and political dynamics in the concert hall, and argues that the underlying forms of bourgeois sociability centred on this space remained largely intact, providing a site on which forms of social distinction were maintained despite the social egalitarianism of the regime.

Neil Gregor is Professor of Modern European History at the University of Southampton. He has published widely on twentieth-century German history, including Daimler-Benz in the Third Reich (1998) and Haunted City: Nuremberg and the Nazi Past (2008), both of which won the Fraenkel Prize for Contemporary History. His latest book is ‘Dreams of Germany. Musical Imaginaries from the Concert Hall to the Dance Floor’, co-edited with Thomas Irvine (Berghahn, 2019).

“I am particularly concerned, in both my writing and teaching, to find ways of integrating histories of antisemitism and the Holocaust into wider histories of Germany and Europe in the late-nineteenth and twentieth centuries – my current project on the Symphony Concert in Nazi Germany reflects these concerns.”