Byline: Scott C. Morgan firstname.lastname@example.org
The Elgin Symphony Orchestra continues its multiyear project titled "Exploring Our American Voice" by focusing on Hollywood music this spring.
"We thought, if we're going to talk about American music, we have to talk about the influence that Hollywood has on our classical music as well," said Robert Hanson, Elgin Symphony Orchestra music director and conductor.
Previous concerts this April focused on American composers like George Gershwin, John Williams and Jerome Kern, but composers from Germany (Franz Waxman, Richard Strauss), Hungary (Miklos Rozsa) and Austria (Erich Wolfgang Korngold) are featured in the ESO concerts "Exiles in Hollywood" this weekend.
Though many consider the lush sound of Hollywood movie music to be a distinctly all-American creation, it has strong roots tied to tragic events in Europe. Many European composers and musicians had to flee their native lands during Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party's rise to power. A great deal of them immigrated to America.
"This was a great gift (to American culture) -- an unintended gift, because Hitler adored music, but he felt that he wanted to control it and wanted to cleanse Europe of the people he hated. And they included modernist composers, socialists, Jews and homosexuals, and that's a large population of artists and musicians," said Dorothy Lamb Crawford, author of the new book "A Windfall of Musicians: Hitler's [ETH]migrs and Exiles in Southern California."
"So (Hitler) was poison to music in Europe."
In the past 25 years, there have been major efforts in concert halls and by musicians (like Ravinia Festival music Director James Conlon) to revive the forgotten or undervalued music of composers who were suppressed, or in some cases killed, by the Nazis. The record company Decca/London even put out a series of "Entartete Musik" (Degenerate Music) recordings of operas and other music by Nazi-blacklisted artists.
For her book, Crawford spent 11 years researching the lives of 31 European composers and musicians who ended up in California. Her 24 years of work as a radio host, composer and teacher gave her access to numerous musicians …