Knappertsbusch, Hans. (1888–1965) [Krauss, Clemens. (1893–1954)] [Pfitzner, Hans Eric. (1869–1949)]

Autograph Letter Signed mentioning the composer Hans Pfitzner and Adolf Hitler

ALS from the General Music Director of the Bavarian State Opera to the Austrian conductor Clemens Krauss, regarding some upcoming scheduled vacation time.  18 September 1934;  1 pp.  In part (translated from the German): "Dear General Director, / Pazack's artillery repeats itself every year," possibly a misspelled reference to the operatic tenor Julius Patzak.  He continues, "For that reason, may I ask you to change the vacation from the 16—18 of October only if absolutely necessary- but not Christmas Day.  There can be no objection to the rest of the dates that you have already requested.  The instance of the honorable Mr. Pfitzer, who unglued himself like a gel ["gallertartig"] from the Finn Cossmann to Hitler, almost makes one depressed. / With best regards / and Heil Hitler / yours / Hans Knappertsbusch."  Annotations in red wax pencil have been written throughout by an unknown hand.  Wear to edges, short split along horizontal mailing fold, else in fine condition.  8.5 x 10.5 inches (21.6 x 26.7 cm.).

Despite Hans Pfitzner's belief that Jews posed "dangers to German spiritual life and German kultur" (The Music of Hans Pfitzner, John Williamson, Oxford University Press, pp. 318–319), and his ongoing friendships with numerous virulent anti-semites, the German composer's refusal to disown his Jewish friends and acquaintances lost him favor with Nazi officials.  In 1934, the year of the present letter, Pfitzner was forced into retirement, losing his positions as opera conductor, stage director, and academy professor.  The letter makes reference to journalist Paul Cossman, a childhood friend on whose behalf Pfitzner often interceded, possibly leading to Cossmann's release from prison in 1934.  By 1939, Pfitzner was vocal in his opposition to the Nazi Party.  His music was banned and his membership with the Munich Academy of Music was revoked.

Clemens Krauss was appointed director of the Berlin State Opera in 1935 after Erich Kleiber resigned in protest over Nazi rule.  Krauss's own position on Nazism was unclear, although he enjoyed a close relationship with Nazi official Alfred Frauenfeld and it has been claimed that he sought Nazi Party membership in 1933.  In 1937 he was appointed Intendant of the National Theatre Munich, following the resignation there of Hans Knappertsbusch. (19692)

Classical Music
History & Historiography
Autograph Letter
Signed Document/Item