Ahead of the annual New Year’s jamboree, Austrian historians and journalists are taking interest in the VPO’s performance under Nazi rule – the period when the orchestra invented the New Year’s Day concert.
An article in Die Presse today reminds us that the VPO had an unduly high number of Nazis among its players – 25 joined the party when it was still illegal in Austria. After March 12, 1938, fifteen Jewish and leftist musicians were sent to concentration camps. Seven of them died. The orchestra awarded a signal honour to Baldur von Schirach, the Gauleiter in charge of ‘cleansing’ Vienna.
In response to questions about the origins of the New Year’s concert, the VPO chairman Clemens Hellsberg promised to provide website space to the orchestra’s conduct under the Third Reich – before the 75th anniversary of the Anschluss in March 201.