The term the Nazis used for how to handle the Jews was “Ausradieren” or ‘Erase’, this did not only mean to kill every Jew but also ensure that no other Jew would be born again.
But the notion of erasing the Jewish people also meant to erase anything Jewish. Things like Jewish scientific research, literature,art and music had to be destroyed or replaced.
When it came to music there were composers who we were willing participants in achieving at least the musical part of that aim.
Carl Orff, composer of works like ‘Carmina Burana’ (best known for the piece O Fortuna),
was among the few German composers during the Nazi era who had been hired to write ‘appropriately’ Aryan music to replace the new incidental music and replace for ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, which had been composed by the vilified Jewish composer Felix Mendelssohn.
In 1995, the music critic Alex Ross called Orff’s version of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ ’ one of the shabbiest acts in musical history.” and I tend to agree with that.
Thankfully the Nazis did not succeed in destroying all Jewish cultural heritage, the world would have been a much more boring place without it.
Carl Orff was on a de-nazification program. He always denied that he had been a supporter of the Nazi regime and that he even had helped to set up “the White Rose” .resistance group, but there was never any evidence found to back up that claim.
Carl Orff died on March 29,1982.
Ending this blog with a piece of Felix Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, this piece is more commonly known as the Wedding March.
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