Monday, March 12, 2012

Reich and Wrong

Yes, as we show in our new book, Beethoven's music (and particularly The Ninth)  has inspired millions of people around the world to take positive action in their own lives or in their societies.  One must also admit that the Nazis also embraced LvB who was, after all, a German icon (though they preferred Wagner).   One of the most controversial nights in music history took place in April, 1942, when The Ninth was played for Hitler's birthday, although he did not attend.  Perhaps he preferred the Fifth.

In any case, film footage has long existed of the closing moments of the performance, conducted by the legendary Wilhelm Furtwangler,  showing various Nazi leaders listening to "all men must become brothers" and applauding at the end.  And then the key moment: Nazi henchman Goebbels steps forward and shakes Furtwangler's hand.  The conductor (who had a very mixed record in relation to the Reich)  looks uncomfortable, and then we see him transfer his handkerchief from his left hand to his right--as if to erase the stain.  Or not?  We'll never know, but controversy has raged. Watch the footage for yourself--and also check out the movie from a few years back about Furtwangler, Taking Sides, which concludes with the handkerchief transfer:

1 comment:

  1. This makes me want to puke. Seeing the swastika on display while this music is playing is a desecration of humanity. They might as well have just pulled Ludwig out of the ground and pissed on his skeleton. Damn...