Abendroth, Hermann. (1883–1956)

Signed Photograph in program of Grand Festival Beethoven, Paris, June 1943

Rare, lavishly produced program of a Beethoven festival in occupied Paris, held between June 18 and 28, 1943 at the Théâtre National du Palais de Chaillot and consisting of five concerts conducted by Hermann Abendroth.  Abendroth signed his photographic portrait on the inside of the front cover.  10.5 x 8.25 inches (27 x 21 cm).  Vertical fold; in fine condition overall.

A highly interesting, somewhat eerie document.  The effort of the German military administration to put up a grand festival at such a late stage of the war (albeit still a year before D-Day), when food was rationed, is astonishing. Abendroth conducted the orchestra of the Société des concerts du Conservatoire.  All nine symphonies, the First, Fourth and Fifth piano concertos (Ney, Cortot, Kempff), the Violin Concerto (with Ginette Neveu) and the Egmont overture were performed.  Two of the soloists were French—Alfred Cortot and Ginette Neveu; two were German—Wilhelm Kempff and Elly Ney.  The choir and the vocal soloists in the Ninth Symphony were all French.  The uncredited introductory essay on the nine symphonies is bilingual, in German and French; all other textual matter is in French only.  There are no biographies.  Like Abendroth, the instrumental soloists are also depicted in whole-page photographic portraits.

Abendroth replaced Bruno Walter as conductor of the Leipzig Gewandhausorchester in 1934, when Walter was dismissed as a Jew. Although Abendroth had initially been scrutinized by German authorities for his liberal views, he adapted to his circumstances and became an approved figure, officially joining the Nazi Party in 1937. After World War II, Abendroth's Nazi background initially had him blacklisted, but he then became an important conductor and cultural figure in the GDR.  Signed material from Abendroth is relatively uncommon. (22433)

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