East and West Publishing, 2012

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The title of the book under review is somewhat misleading. With a few exceptions there were no real musical battles during the second world war. Of course this sounds better than “the role of music during the second world war”. The author makes it clear how important music was (with a preponderance in his writing on classical music) on all war and home fronts. These were the heydays of radio and all belligerents did their best to inspire their peoples and armies with the necessary musical vitamins. All authorities understood that men and women did not want blatant propaganda pieces rousing soldiers to a heroic death. Even rogue states as  Germany and the Soviet Union understood that in music (and in movies) pure entertainment was to be preferred with the message to the war effort somewhat hidden.

(Music and propaganda in the Third Reich)

 Therefore if you are not an avid record and book collector (English, French, German) you will get an idea and some samples of music programmes in Germany, France, Britain, the United States plus a few pages on the Soviet Union with the situation in Italy being a blaring omission. If you are a music book collector and can read those three languages you will miss not much as the author did not research intensively archives, journals and other important new sources in those countries. Take the chapter on “Defeated France” for example. We do get a good inkling of what happened in Paris and half a page on Marseille and that will do. Important though Paris is, France is still somewhat larger and musical life during the war in big cities as Lyon, Bordeaux, Toulouse etc. might be a fascinating topic. The chapter on “Music in the Third Reich” too is rather short and concentrated upon a few personalities (Furtwängler, Strauss) or places (Bayreuth). Even more slender is the author’s contribution on “Russia” (a misleading term as only a small part of Russia was touched by the war. Ukraine, White-Russia, the Baltic States bore the brunt of it). Three out of twelve pages are devoted to the reception of Russian music in the West during the war and the rest of the chapter employs the same method as elsewhere: reliance on war happenings told in biographies of famous musicians (Prokofiev, Shostakovich). In short, this mainly is a book that rehashes the war stories in books that formerly used not always to be available. Nowadays though collectors are among the great beneficiaries of the internet and the myriad possibilities second hand shops offer.  As Anglo-Saxons are not really known for their language proficiency this book offers a lot of information available only in German and French which will escape many a reader. Therefore several interesting stories will be unknown to members of the non-collecting community.

(Patrick Bade on both Mozart, Debussy ...)



What mars the book seriously is the sloppiness of the author in checking facts and names. Once upon a time one could more or less accept a few mistakes but with the amount of information offered by the world wide web one can no longer accept the plethora one meets here. As a senior lecturer at Christie’s Education Mr. Bade “who has published extensively on visual arts” should have widely read and immersed himself on the history of the war itself as this subject is completely linked to the music he discusses.  This he definitely has not done. He clearly belongs to the kind of writers whose judgment is based on hindsight that was not available at the time for contemporaries. Take for instance his remark (page 3) that “it would have been apparent to everyone… in January 1944, whether German or French, that the war was about to enter its final phase.” Well,  as a  historian who published on the war I can assure him that even that late (as we now know but contemporaries did not) people were still despairing it would ever end. On the all important Eastern front Kiev had just been liberated two months earlier while Soviets soldiers would only enter Novgorod in January. In the meantime Western allies were bogged down in Italy. Only after the conquest of Paris in August 1944 one can read such comments. But military history seems to escape Mr. Bade completely. “On 10 May 1940 the German hordes poured into Belgium and the Netherlands on their way round the Maginot Line”  the author writes. In reality this was a side show while the main attack came through the French Ardennes. We also read that “even after the massed departure of the artists, cultural life continued in Moscow throughout the desperate winter of 1940 – 1941.” I wonder why artists would have left in winter 1940 as the Germans only invaded on the 22nd of June 1941. According to Bade the allies “were well on their way to Paris” on the 25th of July 1944 while in reality the allies were still stuck in Normandy at a place they had hoped to conquer five weeks earlier. Till the end of July people in the occupied countries lived in fear of German counterattacks that would throw the allies into sea. De Gaulle didn’t deliver his famous speech on the 28th of August as Bade writes but on the 25th. Bade tells us (on Georges Brassens) that forced labour took place “in harsh conditions hardly better than prison.” This was true for Polish and Soviet labour force but not for Western-European workers who could leave their barracks, use public transport and mingle with Germans (if they wanted).  Non-British readers will probably howl with surprise when they are informed that the decisive battles in the war raged on in Stalingrad (correct) and….El Alamein (page 133). Probably one must be British to think this small side theatre in the war was of world changing importance. We are informed too that the Germans intended a pincer movement between their armies at  Stalingrad (850.00 German soldiers) and at El Alamein. It wouldn’t have been much of a pincer as at El Alamein only 116.000 German and Italians had to take on 200.000 Empire soldiers. “In April 1945 it was the music of Bruckner that revealed the death of Adolf Hitler to the allies.” we read. That music was broadcast on the 1st of May at 22.30 h p.m. when Hitler’s death was first announced. Conductor Arturo Toscanini showed a “steadfast opposition to Fascism” Mr. Bade writes. Why then did Toscanini run unsuccessfully as a fascist parliamentary candidate in Milan ?  Steadfast antifascist he became when he discovered that Mussolini didn’t need his unrequited advice.  Other examples among many ones of sloppy history knowledge. French tenor André Dassary is accused of recording the Vichy hymn of “Maréchal, nous voilà !” He did indeed, but it would be only fair to say he recorded in early June 1941 at a time De Gaulle was only a laughing stock and almost all countries (US included) recognized the legitimacy of the Pétain government.


 Richard Fall, brother of the famous operetta composer Leo, did not leave for the US and came back in the middle of the war to be picked up by the Gestapo and sent to Auschwitz. He never left Europe as proven in Fall’s well researched biography by Stefan Frey. Richard was arrested in Nice (not by the Gestapo but by the Sipo/SD) and sent to his death together with his wife in Auschwitz. One who made it to the US was Imre Kalman who according to Bade “declined the tainted offer of honorary Aryan status”. No full Jew and married to a Jewish wife like Kalman ever received such an offer. Bade tells us that in 1936 “despite mounting Arab hostility to Jewish immigration , the attitudes of Arabs and Jews  were far from being polarised as they were to become”. He clearly has not heard of the Arab revolt in that same year and the indiscriminate killing of Jews all over Palestine.  Once more too we get the hoary story that “the inflammatory power of opera was demonstrated” by a performance of La Muette de Portici at De Munt in Brussels. Since long historians have proved that the so called Belgian Revolution was well prepared (rioters were paid in advance some weeks before the performance took place), had social roots and therefore was not due to the inflammatory power of “Amour sacré de la patrie”,  though this story will pop up eternally in sleeve notes of recordings  for marketing purposes.

Even these faux pas pale compared to the staggering amount of typos and mistakes in easy to check names and places. The hero in Cilea’s L’Arlesiana is called Federico and not Federigo (page 35), Pau Civil was Catalan and not called Pablo (page 52). It is Noré and not Nore (page 73); Hahn is called a catholic half-Jew on page 103 and a Jew on page 104; a difference between life and death. Dutch baritone Willem Ravelli was not Jewish. Bade probably mixes him up with Schey. Heinz Tietjen is the name and not Heinz Tietjens (page 113). The violinist George Gulenkamf does not exist. Meant is Kulenkampff. The tenor in Aida is called Radames and not Rhadames (page 235). Jan Peerce’s original name is not Jan Perelmuth but Jacob Pinkus Perelmuth (page 164). The sham on Theresienstadt was not “The Führer gives a village to the Jews” (page 258) because “eine Stadt” is a city and not a village. And Eduard Künneke gets his correct name on the second line on page 268 while two lines later he becomes and stays Künnecke. Mr. Bade informs us that tenor Helge Rosvaenge was “billed as Roswaenge during the Nazi period” (page 47) and then publishes a photograph from the book “Wir von der Oper” published in 1932 before Hitler came to power and where the tenor’s name is printed with a w too. Johan Heesters did not cause widespread outrage with his unrepentant remarks about the Nazi era on Dutch TV (page 303). He did not make such vicious remarks. The outrage was because he kept repeating he did not know what had happened during the war. Fritz doesn’t sing “Bravo Dottore” in the 1941 recording of L’Amico Fritz (page 312) but uses “O buon Dottore”. On the same page we are told Andrea Chenier was recorded in 1942. It is “Chénier” and the recording took place one year earlier. I don’t know of a song “Parler-moi d’amour” (page 365) but I have often heard “Parlez-moi etc”. Have you ever listened to a song called “Joe Hull” ? (page 394). No you didn’t. Meant is “Joe Hill”. On one page (172) Mr. Bade succeeds in calling Lotte Lehmann Lone Lehmann, Robert Stolz becomes Stoltz while Benatzky’s name is printed as Bentazky. Enough ! Maybe Mr. Bade will think this is all nit-picking. But I wonder how he would review a book on British art where we could read stories on Peter Pearce, Beniamino Britten, Turnar, Hogart etc. and were told the Normans invaded in 1067. I severely doubt he would have recommended it.

Jan Neckers


Mr Bade the author of the book was entitled to a 'right of reply'. Hereby his reaction to the review above

It is never a comfortable experience to be attacked in print or on the internet. In the case of Jan Neckers’ review of my book, I was oddly comforted by the tone of unrelenting vituperation which combines with his execrable written English to create a bizarrely quaint and comical effect. I was particularly amused by his snide comments about the lack of linguistic talents of the “Anglo-Saxons” (whoever they may be) couched in lumpish and ungrammatical language that betrays his own limited command of English.
In amongst the bile and trivia there are occasional glimpses of a more serious engagement with the deeper issues of the book. There are inevitable questions about any book that attempts to cover so much ground - questions about what should be included and what should be excluded. I make no claim to comprehensiveness and this is a book that is intended to be read rather than used for reference. All the same I think it is fair enough to complain about the lack of chapters on Italy, Belgium, Holland, Scandinavia, Poland, the Baltic States, South Africa, Australia and the Far East. There must be fascinating material from all of these countries. My problem was that to include them would have entailed an extra volume or two. I am also perfectly willing to admit to the limitations of my own interests, experience and linguistic skills.
Neckers complains about the lack of archival material in the book. This is fair enough too, though  I did make it clear in the preface (did Necker read this?) that my approach was intended to be a different one. I wished to base the book as far as possible on surviving recorded material. I also made the decision to concentrate on first hand autobiographical material. There is certainly far less secondary material from biographies that Mr. Neckars seems to imagine.
A further useful source of material was propaganda material such as the magazines Der Adler and Le Signal. I am not aware that this kind of material has been used extensively before.
Mr Necker claims to have found “staggering” quantities of mistakes but unless he is holding out on us for some reason he doesn’t come up with the evidence for this. Some of the mistakes he falls upon are absurdly trivial. Trawling through footnotes in search of typos (Lotte Lehmann misspelt on page 172) smacks of desperation, particularly from a reviewer incapable of putting together a coherent and grammatical sentence.
Many of the so-called mistakes are either cases of willful misunderstanding or else of lack of comprehension of the English text. I’m sure that Mr Neckers knows that although Pau Civil may have been of Catalan origin, Pablo Civil was the stage name that he used through most of his career and which appears on record labels and in programmes.
My comment that Helge Rosvaenge used two different spellings of his name was actually made in attempt to prevent nit-picking. There was no political implication and there is no significance in the fact that he was already using the German spelling a year before the Nazis took power.
Mr. Neckers’ comment about the discrepancy of Reynaldo Hahn being described as half Jewish and Jewish on consecutive pages is a clear cut case of him misunderstanding my written English. On page 103 I spell it out very clearly that he was half-Jewish on his father’s side and a Catholic and as such perceived as a Jew by Nazis. There is absolutely no discrepancy in saying on the next page that after the Nazi invasion of the south he was “menaced as a Jew” as I have already explained that the Nazis saw him as such. I can hardly believe how obtuse Mr Neckers has been over this point. Surely this difference in meaning would be the same in any language. To describe someone as “menacé comme un Juif” is not the same as saying “il est Juif”
On the other hand I haven’t clue what point he is trying to make about the fact that André Dassary recorded “Maréchal nous voila” before Petain was rejected by the Americans. Does this make the record less notorious?
As far as the disputing of historical facts is concerned, Mr Neckers clearly has strong opinions about the war and I think we will just have to agree to disagree. It seems to me that a battle in which the Germans were prevented from taking Cairo and moving onto the oil fields of the Middle East can rightly be acknowledged as decisive and one doesn’t have to be a British chauvinist to say so.
And finally to the hoary old story of La Muette de Portici. Once again it seems to me that Mr Neckers has willfully distorted and misunderstood what I wrote. Happily I can refer readers to an excellent authoritative essay entitled “La Révolution belge et La Muette de Portici” by Cécile Vanderpelen-Diagre which has just appeared in the series Avant Scène Opera.
No doubt the Belgian revolution would have occurred with or without Auber. I make no attempt whatsoever to explore the underlying causes of this revolution. That would be a digression of little relevance to the theme of my book and of even less interest to non-Belgian readers. It is also completely irrelevant to my theme whether the notorious riot at L Monnaie was premeditated or not. Its significance was, as Cécile Vanderpelen-Diagre puts it as the “détonateur” of the events that led up to the independence of Belgium. “Après ce fameux soir du 25 août 1830, l’effet possiblement séditieux d’un opéra ne sera plus a prouver.”
Readers who interested in a more balanced and better written assessment of my book could try David Collard in the “Times Literary Supplement” ( April 27 ) or John Robert Brown in Classical Music Magazine. (19 May)

Patrick Bade

Here is Jan Neckers 'right of reply' to the above reaction from Mr Bade

I understand Mr Bade's dismay. How does a continental bumpkin (not even a native from the North-American colonies) dare to cast doubt upon a masterpiece from a worthy pillar of the Empire ? I offer my apologies to Mr.
Bade but assure him that I only mentioned part of his mistakes and typos because otherwise the review would have gone on and on and on. Admirably consequent with the plethora of mistakes in his book, in his reply to my
review Mr. Bade succeeds in spelling my name in three different versions. As a historian specializing in 19th century politics of my country I nevertheless yield to the superior source Mr. Bade has found on the Belgian
revolution. The lady in question is an authority on "history and sociology of catholic literature". I also humbly suggest Mr Bade to start a campaign against all those prominent British historians who wrote that El Alamein was
only a small side theatre during the world war; even proving that marshall Rommel's "moving on to the oil fields in the Middle East" was a mere fantasy of British generals as all documents show that Hitler and the German High Command never contemplated such a move.

Note from the editor:

I have been acquainted with Patrick Bade for more than a decade and came to appreciate him as a great expert in the visual arts and a really good connaisseur of opera and its past. So I was quite enthusiastic when I saw the publication of this book and looked forward to having it reviewed on our website. I also started to read the book as its subject is of great interest to me yet after several pages I also realized something was amiss. The mistakes and typos Mr Neckers refers to are indeed sad and I was quite unhappily surprised by them because that's not how I knew (yes, simple past by now) the author. It makes one wonder if the manuscript has ever been edited and proofread. Mind you there are certainly also parts to enjoy and of interest as Mr Neckers also admits in his review. But Patrick has been too careless with his manuscript and was obviously too fast in getting this to the publisher. I can only hope he will go for a new edition and will get everything right.

As for Jan Neckers's knowledge of history I can easily confirm without any doubt that it's simply phenomenal.

As for Pau Civil, he was indeed Catalan and thus Pau was his real name. Under the Castillian occupation (a fact worth mentioning) he also appeared under the name Pablo, yet it was as Paolo that he often appeared elsewhere especially in Italy where he resided for some years and proven by the photo below.

(photo courtesy Charles Mintzer)




To conclude I will copy the famous phrase by Harold Rosenthal the long-time editor of the British 'Opera' magazine : "this correspondence has now been closed"