Magazine article Musical Opinion

The Schwarzkopf Tapes - an Artist Replies to a Hostile Biography

Magazine article Musical Opinion

The Schwarzkopf Tapes - an Artist Replies to a Hostile Biography

Article excerpt

The Schwarzkopf Tapes - an artist replies to a hostile biography Edited by Alan Sanders Classical Recordings Quarterly & the Elisabeth Schwarzkopf/ Walter Legge Society 8 Locksmeade Road, Richmond, Surrey TW10 7YT; 020 8940 1988 Paperback 136pp £9:95 [including UK postage £11; £12:50 Europe; £14 rest of the world] ISBN 978-0-9567361-0-9

In 1996 Alan Jefferson published an unauth orised biography of the great sop - rano Dame Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, which purported to be balanced, although in many points of fact it was inaccurate and the general tone was undoubtedly hostile, making much of the fact that a condition of her contract with the Deutsches Opern - haus in Berlin after being made a prob - ationary junior soprano in the company was that she had to join the Nazi party. Her father, however, a school headmaster, had fallen foul of the Nazis soon after they came to power in 1933, and advised his wife and daughter to obey the authorities in all respects and with as much conviction as they could muster, since they were all under surveillance.

Jefferson had originally written to Dame Elisabeth asking for her co-operation in writing the biography, but she replied that she had already promised the rights to any book she might write on her life to Faber & Faber. Jefferson then went ahead, but the published book - which attracted wide notice, and written of course without her co-operation - was found to contain many errors. At the time, Dame Elisabeth fully intended taking legal action against Jefferson and the publishers (Gollancz), but had then recently undergone a painful eye operation, which made reading difficult; she also lived in Switzerland and was 75 years old - a combination of factors that eventually prevented her pursuing the corrections and retractions she felt were necessary in the courts. …

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