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Israeli Philharmonic Bows to Outraged Public, ‘postpones’ Performance of Strauss Piece

October 17, 1969
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, bowing to heavy pressure and threats of demonstrations outside the Mann Auditorium here, has indefinitely “postponed” a performance of Richard Strauss’ tone poem, “Till Eulenspiegel” which was on the program of next Sunday’s concert. The orchestra announced today that it would submit the controversy to a high level public committee for decision.

Bitter protests were mounted against the work by organizations of concentration camp survivors and ghetto fighters on the grounds that Strauss was an anti-Semite and a Nazi-sympathizer. They were joined by many concert subscribers and others. Israeli writers, journalists and intellectuals who usually abhor censorship and take a sophisticated view of such matters have privately advised the orchestra management to drop the performance. Their argument was that it would be “offensive” to many Israelis and might reflect unfavorably on the entire country. No works of Richard Strauss or of Richard Wagner, also reputedly an anti-Semite, have ever been performed in Israel though compositions of other German and Austrian composers have. The Philharmonic management, while refusing to admit that it gave in to pressure over a work of art, nevertheless has indicated that it will not perform the works of Strauss until a different atmosphere prevails in the country.

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