Jerusalem Symphony Lifts Ban on Richard Strauss’ Works

The Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra has decided to lift its longtime ban on performing the works of the German composer, Richard Strauss who once held an official position in the Nazi regime. The Jerusalem Symphony is the orchestra of the Israel Broadcasting Corp. The latter has broadcast recordings of Strauss but the orchestra would not perform his works at concerts.

The change of policy was by unanimous decision of the orchestra’s music committee after visiting guest conductor Igor Morkevitch convinced them that Strauss was neither a Nazi nor an anti-Semite. At worst, the maestro was guilty of weakness and passivity, Markevitch said. He noted that Strauss quit his Nazi post after two years because of his friendship with Jewish composers. Strauss, who died in 1949, was best known for his opera Der Rosenkavelier which annually opens the season of the Metropolitan Opera Co. in New York.

But the Jerusalem Symphony and the Broadcasting Authority still refuse to perform the works of Richard Wagner whose anti-Semitic sentiments are a matter of historical record. A storm of controversy was raised last year when the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, under the baton of Zubin Mehto, performed Wagner in concert in Tel Aviv.

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