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A Jewish Orchestra in Nazi Germany: Musical Politics and the Berlin Jewish Culture League
by Lily E. Hirsch
University of Michigan Press, 2011
Paper: 978-0-472-03497-0 | Cloth: 978-0-472-11710-9 | eISBN: 978-0-472-02540-4
Library of Congress Classification ML3917.G3H57 2010
Dewey Decimal Classification 780.89924043


"Offers a clear introduction to a fascinating, yet little known, phenomenon in Nazi Germany, whose very existence will be a surprise to the general public and to historians. Easily blending general history with musicology, the book provides provocative yet compelling analysis of complex issues."
---Michael Meyer, author of The Politics of Music in the Third Reich

"Hirsch poses complex questions about Jewish identity and Jewish music, and she situates these against a political background vexed by the impossibility of truly viable responses to such questions. Her thorough archival research is complemented by her extensive use of interviews, which gives voice to those swept up in the Holocaust. A Jewish Orchestra in Nazi Germany is a book filled with the stories of real lives, a collective biography in modern music history that must no longer remain in silence."
---Philip V. Bohlman, author of Jewish Music and Modernity

"An engaging and downright gripping history. The project is original, the research is outstanding, and the presentation lucid."
---Karen Painter, author of Symphonic Aspirations: German Music and Politics, 1900-1945

The Jewish Culture League was created in Berlin in June 1933, the only organization in Nazi Germany in which Jews were not only allowed but encouraged to participate in music, both as performers and as audience members. Lily E. Hirsch's A Jewish Orchestra in Nazi Germany is the first book to seriously investigate and parse the complicated questions the existence of this unique organization raised, such as why the Nazis would promote Jewish music when, in the rest of Germany, it was banned. The government's insistence that the League perform only Jewish music also presented the organization's leaders and membership with perplexing conundrums: what exactly is Jewish music? Who qualifies as a Jewish composer? And, if it is true that the Nazis conceived of the League as a propaganda tool, did Jewish participation in its activities amount to collaboration?

Lily E. Hirsch is Assistant Professor of Music at Cleveland State University.

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