I’m going to deal today with an issue worthy of serious attention. This past Monday Pat Marriott, on his Evening Concert program on Classical HQR, played music by Felix Draeseke. That’s an unfamiliar name in music, and Pat explained on Monday morning that the works of Draeseke were favored by “the cultural authorities of the Third Reich”, then largely disappeared after World War II, but are now coming to public attention again. We immediately heard from listener E: “I find [Pat’s] choice, his timing, and his words to be particularly scary, alarming, and distressing."
At a time in our nation and the world when Fascism and Fascist concepts and actions are having a resurgence and are seeming to become normalized, on May 1st-- a day of resistance to the menacing limitations on our rights, and just a week after Holocaust Remembrance Day, Mr. Marriott's choice is all the more questionable, objectionable and offensive (whether or not he consciously or unconsciously understood the times and environment for his choices). Normalizing Fascist/Nazi music and talking about it is just wrong in general, and certainly not what your station stands for.
Therefore, I ask you to please find substitute programming for the piece Mr. Marriott promo'd so that he does not play it tonight nor any time-- especially along with his description of it… It would be better all around to stop this now and not have it become an issue that becomes more public. WHQR is beloved in the community and we all want to keep it that way.
I am concerned and extremely disappointed that it seems you have decided to let Mr. Marriott promote this music, which he stated was Fascist/Nazi embraced. I understand free speech. However, doing what is right for the public is more important than allowing Mr. Marriott to normalize music that he publicly associated with hate. I will not be listening.
I wrote to E that she does raise an issue that is important to her and others. As Pat noted, Draeseke died in 1913 -- a full generation before the Nazis came to power. I do not see how it can be argued that it’s “Nazi music”, or that he wrote it to express Nazi sympathies. Nor can Draeseke be held responsible for the fact that Nazis embraced his music, long after his death. Pat was carefully stating a historical fact — that Draeseke’s music had been embraced, and essentially disappeared as a result, but that now the music world is starting to re-discover it.
There was a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in Berlin in the last weeks of World War II. There is even a recording of it — with its plea for universal brotherhood, it’s a ghastly relic to be sure. But should we never hear the Ninth again? Is this kind of guilt by association really how we should combat the scourge of fascism?
I told E. that although I very much understand her concern, I do not agree that Pat was in any way endorsing or normalizing Nazism. And I thanked her then, and now, very much for writing.
And this: last month I read Penny’s note that one of the national classical hosts, Lynne Warfel, had said that Walton’s “Orb and Sceptre” march had been played at every English coronation since its writing – which of course would be only the current Queen Elizabeth’s. I said I thought Lynne was probably speaking tongue in cheek. To my surprise, that came to Lynne’s attention via Google, and she commented on our website that that was indeed the case. So I hereby declare her comment retroactively amusing.
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