There has never been a book written on the subject of the Berlin Philharmonic during the Third Reich, in any language. The historiography is scant, and strewn with rumors and misinformation. This book represents the first comprehensive study of the relationship between Hitler's regime and its musical crown jewel. The Nazi regime's patronage afforded the Berlin Philharmonic innumerable privileges unique among German cultural institutions. The orchestra accepted these benefits with a combination of gratitude, apprehension and vindication. As the musicians attempted to balance their exceptional status with a degree of artistic and organizational autonomy, tensions between ideological principle, legal jurisdiction, personal taste, and pragmatic regulation, revealed profound contradictions at the heart of the Nazi State. In terms of institutional development, the transformations of the Berlin Philharmonic between 1933 and 1945 remain the models for the orchestra's organization to the present day. Drawing together documents from orchestra, State and private archives, this book reflects the experience of a major cultural institution, at once distressingly typical of Germany's Nazi experience, and astonishingly distinct.
The Reich's Orchestra
The Berlin Philharmonic, 1933-1945