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U.S. Musicians Object to Concerts by “nazi-led” Berlin Orchestra

February 21, 1955
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

A petition calling for cancellation of three scheduled concerts at Carnegie Hall by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, which arrives in the United States next Sunday to open a six-week tour of 21 cities in the United States and Canada, has been signed by about 750 members of the American Federation of Musicians.

The petition, which 4,000 musicians in New York are expected to sign by Wednesday when it is submitted to an executive board meeting of Local 802–on whom it calls for action to halt the concert–charges that the conductor of the orchestra, Herbert von Karajan, and its manager, Gerhardt von Westerman, were members of the Nazi Party. The text of the petition declares:

“We musicians strenuously object to the appearance of the Nazi-led and Nazi-managed Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra in New York. The conductor, H. Von Karajan, as well as the orchestra manager, was an active party member who bears responsibility for the death and exile of countless musicians from Hitler Germany.

“We also protest the United States Government subsidy of this orchestra while American orchestras are denied such support. We urge you to act to prevent this performance.”

An official of Columbia Artists Management, which is handling the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra’s tour, declared that the petition was in error in stating that the U. S. Government had subsidized the tour. He insisted that the West German Government was subsidizing it entirely.

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