Waltzing Around

Because I am reading voraciously about WWI, the Vienna Philharmonic's 2014 New Year's Day Concert raised this question: Was the waltzing around that accompanied the Austrian invasion of Serbia in 1914 a sign of a society that had lost touch with reality? Post here.

Monday's NYTimes (Jan 6), sees the orchestra squarely in another context, the lead up to and WWII. This self-governing body was in tune with Hitler's agenda, including dismissing its Jewish members. James Oestreich (what an appropriate surname!) reviewing this year's performance, "Waltzing Right Past History in Austria," notes several efforts the orchestra has made to remember and acknowledge its past trangressions.

This year's guest conducter, Argentinian-Israeli Daniel Barenboim, while demurring from entering into the orchestra's past history, had this to say, “How much guilt do you want to distribute to people who came four or five generations later?” he said. “Admitting responsibility is always a good thing, and the Vienna Philharmonic has done that.”



Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, a former editor of Commonweal, writes frequently in these pages.

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