Playing Hitler's Tune

In three programmes, Valentine Cunningham looks at how music and musicians were manipulated to further the political aims of Hitler's Nazi regime.



How the seeds of discontent sown in the Weimar Republic generated the quest for Aryan successors to Bach, Beethoven and Brahms and fuelled the purge of non-Aryan musicians and their music, culminating in the 1938 exhibition of music branded as degenerate: Entartete Musik.


The laws prohibiting non-Aryan musicians from earning a living in Nazi Germany prompted those with foresight and connections to emigrate, but the vast majority were sent to the death camps.

Valentine Cunningham speaks to cellist Anita Lasker-Wallfisch who survived the camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau and Belsen.

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Courted by Hitler, composer Richard Strauss and conductor Wilhelm Furtwangler were both set up as figureheads in Nazi Germany.

Recent research suggests that history may have treated one too kindly and the other too harshly.