Musical Professionalism and Political Compromise
Conductor Hans Knappertsbusch was a blond, blue-eyed giant, the very picture of a Nazi male. He was so chauvinistic that following World War I he refused to perform in Paris since France was one of the Allied victors. Later he claimed to have been constantly under attack by Marxists and to have moved "exclusively in nationalist circles of society." 1 Suspicious of Jews and other, allegedly corrosive elements in the cultural life of the republic, he was coopted by the National Socialists as one of their own years before Hitler assumed power. In 1933, when several of his colleagues emigrated for political or racist reasons, he is reported to have said that he would rather toil in a quarry than leave Germany. 2 But instead of achieving great success in the Third Reich as one of Germany's most prominent conductors, he lost importance steadily throughout the Nazi regime. The principal reason for this was that Adolf Hitler never liked him.
Possibly Knappertsbusch's hypernationalism stemmed from the early 1910s, when the conductor, then in his early twenties, was an assistant at the Bayreuth Festival and came into contact with the Wolzogen and Chamberlain circle. In 1922 he became the successor to Bruno Walter as Generalmusikdirektor of the Munish-based Bayerische Staatsoper. There he proved extremely popular with the culture-loving public; he was familiarly known as "Kna." This German from Elberfeld was outspoken, with
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Publication information: Book title: The Twisted Muse:Musicians and Their Music in the Third Reich. Contributors: Michael H. Kater - Author. Publisher: Oxford University Press. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1997. Page number: 40.
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