At a time when asylum seekers are subject to hostile
backlash, it is worth remembering that in 1938 our Foreign Office deemed
musicians as 'unsuitable' for entry to the UK. For those refugee composers
who did come here acceptance by the establishment was not easily gained.
They made an important and enduring contribution to our national life
and many eventually became naturalised British citizens. Perhaps some
of them tried too hard to write 'English music', espousing the Pastoral
style then in favour.
Berthold Goldschmidt won a Festival of Britain prize
for his opera, but it was not performed at the time and he lived on
until 1996, a regular figure at London concerts. In this over-long concert,
he was represented by two songs of 1933 (from Morgenstern's Melancholie)
- more striking than a later scena of 1952. Christian Immler
sang those, and others by Wellesz, Gal & Rankl, with authority and
by memory, accompanied by Erik
Nurit Pacht (violin) was partnered (definitely
not accompanied!) by Konstantin Lifschitz. Hans Gal's 1920 Sonata
is tonal and richly chromatic, but more deserving of revival was Peter
Gellhorn's Intermezzo, played in the presence of its sprightly
89 year-old composer, one-time director of the BBC Chorus. Matyas Seiber's
sonata of 1960 opened the concert strongly, and Two (not very)
Small Pieces by Webern's pupil Leopold Spinner (1934) established
that theirs is a valuable violin/piano duo partnership - they should
be invited to return as soon as possible.
Peter Grahame Woolf
See report from Goldsmiths'
College Second Biennial International Conference
On Twentieth-Century Music (EXILE AND SUPPRESSED MUSIC)
Extract: - - Erik Levi discussed
the political decisions that determined what music suppressed by
the Nazis in Germany was heard abroad. The British establishment
did not come out of his analysis whiter than white. There were examples
of heroism, but also others of xenophobia and anti-semitism. There
was by no means a universal welcome for refugee musicians, with
even Vaughan-Williams taking a chauvinistic stance. - -
A second concert, of chamber works by Émigré
Composers will be given on 17 June at the Wigmore Hall.