Exit: Music


James Murdoch | Canada | 2016 | 1:22:00

Before the arrival of Adolf Hitler in 1933, Germany was the centre of the musical world. Within five years thousands of musicians had fled the country as the Nazi regime tightened its race laws and attempted to fashion its own cultural image. EXIT: MUSIC examines how anti-Semitism manifested itself in the music industry, how Jewish composers were depicted as incapable of originality by virtue of race, and how the Third Reich hijacked German music for propaganda purposes. It explores and contrasts the lives and exile of five composers; the stories of their escape; how their identities and careers were changed by exile, and how their music all but disappeared after the war: Paul Ben-Haim who left Munich to became Israel’s leading composer; Adolf Busch, one of the few German musicians who refused to perform in Germany under the Nazi regime, the half-Jewish Walter Braunfels, who remained in Germany and went into a self-imposed exile in a village on the shore of Lake Constance; Erich Korngold who found refuge and a second career as Hollywood’s most distinguished film composer, and Mieczyslaw Weinberg, who fled from Warsaw to the Soviet Union where he was imprisoned under Stalin. Their extraordinary lives and contrasting fortunes encapsulate the challenges and forfeitures of exile Their stories are told by family members and biographers, with commentary from experts in the field and the inclusion of rare archival footage. Their music is performed by the ARC Ensemble (Artists of the Royal Conservatory), a group of committed musicians which has spent the last twelve years restoring unknown masterpieces to the repertoire.

Simon Wynberg