Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Final Concert - A Spring Day in 1945

On April 12, the day that President Roosevelt died in Warm Springs, a concert took place in war - ravaged Berlin. It was the final war - time concert in Berlin before Germany surrendered the following month to the Allies, and eighteen days before Hitler committed suicide not far from where this concert took place.
The program consisted of a Bruckner Symphony (I cannot recall which one), the Beethoven Violin Concerto, and Gotterdammerung (Twilight of the Gods) by Wagner.
It is rather curious to me of the championing of not only Wagner's music, but Beethoven's as well, by the German dictator.
He obviously did not peer enough into the personal history of Beethoven, who demonstrated many times during his life a derision toward, if not hatred, of authority.
Beethoven was a child of the Enlightenment, flying into a rage when the duplicity of Napoleon became known to him. He, upon refusing to bow before a royal entourage (for which he could have been jailed), uttered " it is they who should bow to us."
We cannot know what would have occurred had Beethoven and Hitler been contemporaries. It is perhaps possible that Beethoven might have been spirited to safety through Portugal, to America, with Varian Fry's complicity, Fry having saved many great artists from Nazism.
Or Beethoven might simply have kept quiet, such as other artists did in Germany, for their own safety. One will never know; however, it IS known that the great composer fought against human oppression, which is evident in his music.



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