Vienna Philharmonic reveals new details about past Nazi ties

Conductor Franz Welser-Moest and members of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra performing the traditional New Year's concert earlier this year.
(Dieter Nagl / AFP/Getty Images)

New details about the Vienna Philharmonic’s past Nazi ties have come to light, with research showing that the venerated orchestra contained its fair share of party members during World War II. The new research was carried out by an independent group of historians and has been published on the orchestra’s website.

The researchers also reported that in 1938, all of the orchestra’s Jewish musicians were dismissed. Five of these musicians died in prison or concentration camps.

Nearly half of the musicians of the Vienna Philharmonic were members of the Nazi Party in 1942, with 60 out of 123 musicians identified as party members, according to the study.


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The Vienna Philharmonic has long been considered one of the top orchestras in the world. It has garnered a loyal international television audience with its annual New Year’s concert broadcasts, which air in the U.S. on PBS.

But the Philharmonic has been dogged for years by its murky connections to the Nazis. The orchestra has long kept quiet about its political ties during World War II.

Bloomberg reported that the orchestra participated in Nazi propaganda activities, such as performing a concert at a munitions factory. It also reported that after the end of the war, only 10 musicians had to leave the orchestra due to their Nazi ties.

Late last year, a Viennese politician called on the orchestra to disclose information about its alleged Nazi ties. The recent report was carried out by researchers with support from the orchestra. More historical details are expected to be published in the coming days.

The Vienna Philharmonic made its Walt Disney Concert Hall debut in 2009. The orchestra was in Southern California two years later in 2011, with engagements in Orange County, Santa Barbara, San Diego and Palm Desert.



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