Albrecht Dümling
The Vanished Musicians - Jewish Refugees in Australia
Peter Lang – Éditions Scientifiques Internationales - Collection : Exile Studies - Volume 14
ISBN 978-3-03431-951-5
Translated from the German by Diana K. Weekes
Publication : 2016
Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Wien.
XXVIII, 572 pp., 56 b/w ill.



Vanished Musicians
The lives of Jewish refugees in Australia
Clive Paget
August 23, 2016

A new translation of a seminal investigation examines the fate of dozens, from Jascha Spivakovsky to Marlene Dietrich’s jazz band.

A brand new English translation of a fascinating book on the plight of the Jewish refugee musicians who arrived in Australia is launching in Sydney and Melbourne. Albrecht Dümling’s 2011 German-language title, Die verschwundenen Musiker. Jüdische Flüchtlinge in Australien (The Vanished Musicians: Jewish Refugees in Australia), reveals the experiences of almost 100 musicians who fled the Nazi regime to end up on our shores. To accompany the launches, Dümling is in Australia to deliver a series of 90-minute talks, each of which is expected to cover different topics.

Musicians Efrem Kurtz and Jascha Spivakovsky

Dümling, a Berlin-based musicologist and music critic, is an authority on the Nazis and their attitudes towards what they described as Entartete Musik (Degenerate Music). An author of seminal texts on Brecht and Weill, he was a consultant on Decca’s award-winning series in the 1990s that brought back to life many ‘lost’ masterpieces from banned – and frequently murdered – composers such as Krenek, Schrecker, Schulhoff, Braunfels, Haas and Ullmann.“It all started with a phone call from George Dreyfus in 1992,” Dümling explains. “He had read my book on Brecht and music. In 1995 I was invited to Australia to lecture in nine universities. My second topic was ‘Music and the Holocaust’. During the visit I discovered that there were other German-Jewish refugee musicians in Australia, and this was an unknown area. It made me curious to learn more about it.”

In his book, Dümling looks at 96 “vanished” German-Jewish musicians, from soloists, orchestral players and conductors to singers and composers, who began to arrive in Australia in the 1930s, many of them abandoning high-flying European careers. “The pianist Jascha Spivakovsky [1896-1970] and his brother Tossy, the youngest concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic, were very successful in Europe,” Dümling says. “So were the Weintraubs Syncopators, the Jazz group that played alongside Marlene Dietrich in The Blue Angel film.”

The first Musica Viva chamber music ensemble, Dec 1945.
L to R: Richard Goldner, Eddie Cockman, Robert Pikler and Theo Salzman

Sadly, many of the refugees were unable to find performance work in Australia as a result of pressure from the Musician’s Union of Australia. “Richard Goldner, one of the first violists in the Musica Viva Orchestra in Vienna, had to work in a factory,” Dümling explains. “The Sydney Symphony Orchestra had heard him play and wanted him to join, but the Musicians Union did not allow it. Only from 1945 was he allowed to work again in his musical profession – he then founded Musica Viva Australia.”

While Jascha Spivakovsky, for example, went on to teach at the University of Melbourne, many were less fortunate. “The conductor Adolf Brenner, once successful in Germany, stopped conducting in Australia and became a Permanent Clerk in the Department of Immigration,” says Dümling. “Other losses to music are the pianist Theodor Schoenberger, or the Jewish cantor Boas Bischofswerder who died in Melbourne only 51 years old.”

Like so many German Jews who escaped to Britain, Israel and the United States, many left behind families who were not so ‘fortunate’ and didn’t survive. “Some refugees were able to bring members of their families to Australia, but many others lost their relatives in the Holocaust, for example Hans Bader, Erwin Frenkel, Horst Graff, Rudolf Werther and Walter Würzburger lost their parents,” says Dümling.

The Weintraub Syncopators

Perhaps the most unusual case in the book is that of the popular Weintraub Syncopators who arrived in Australia in 1937. “They were very successful here,” Dümling explains, “but the Musicians Union prevented them getting positions equal to their artistic quality. In 1940 the German members of the band were interned as enemy aliens and the group no longer existed. After their release from internment, those musicians, once members of the best-paid jazz band in Germany, had to make their living in non-musical jobs.”

In all, three of the 90 musicians portrayed in Dümling’s book are still alive – the composer George Dreyfus (born in 1928), the violinist Andy Faktor (born in 1924) and the conductor Gerald Krug (born in 1932, who arrived as a child in Australia). Diana Weekes new translation of Dümling’s book should act as a welcome reminder of less enlightened times.

The third and final Sydney launch of The Vanished Musicians: Jewish Refugees in Australia is at Sydney’s Goethe Institut on August 23 at 6:00pm. Three Melbourne presentations are planned: at the Jewish Museum of Australia at 2:30 pm on August 28; at The Council of Christians and Jews in Victoria at The East Melbourne Synagogue on August 31; and at The Melbourne University Conservatorium on September 1.


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Texte de présentation

About 9,000 Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany settled in Australia between 1933 and 1945, a small fraction of the hundreds of thousands who fled. Although initially greeted with a mixed reception as «enemy aliens», some of these refugees remained and made a significant impact on multicultural Australia. This book traces the difficult journey of the orchestral performers, virtuoso soloists, singers, conductors and composers who sought refuge on a distant continent. A few were famous artists who toured Australia and stayed, most notably the piano virtuoso Jascha Spivakovsky and the members of the Weintraubs Syncopators, one of the most successful jazz bands of the Weimar Republic. Drawing on extensive primary sources – including correspondence, travel documents and interviews with the refugees themselves or their descendants – the author depicts in vivid detail the lives of nearly a hundred displaced musicians. Available for the first time in English, this volume brings to light a wealth of Jewish, exilic and musical history that was hitherto unknown.


Contents: Australia: So Far, and Yet so Near – «Oh sacred Art»: On the Status of Music – Failed Integration: Getting out of Germany, 1933-1937 – On the Other Side of the World – Mixed Feelings: Australian Reactions to German Racial Politics – «Muss i denn, muss i denn zum Städtele hinaus?»: Persecution and Flight – After Kristallnacht – The Refugee Problem from an Australian Perspective – Under Union Scrutiny: The Weintraubs Syncopators – «Down with the fifth column!»: Britain during the War – Interned and Defamed in Australia – «In corrugated iron huts»: Deported to Hay and Tatura – Snow White in Uniform: The Music Revue Sergeant Snow White – The Year 1945: Lost and Found – «The cultivated enthusiasm of a handful of missionaries»: The Genesis of Musica Viva Australia – Between Adjustment and Self-Assertion: Refugee Contributions to Australian Musical Life – «Land of Mine»: New Compositions for a New Australia – «Happily ever after»: Hidden Contributions to Cultural Diversity.

Auteur(s)/Responsable(s) de Publication

Albrecht Dümling is a musicologist and music critic. After completing his doctorate on Arnold Schoenberg and Stefan George, he published the first comprehensive book on Bertolt Brecht’s collaboration with composers. For several years he was a music critic for Der Tagesspiegel and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. His exhibition on Nazi music policies, Degenerate Music: A Critical Reconstruction, travelled to venues all over the world, including London, Amsterdam, Los Angeles, Seville and Tel Aviv. Dümling was also Project Consultant for the DECCA CD series Entartete Musik. He is the chair of the society musica reanimata, and was the first recipient of the European Cultural Prize KAIROS.

Comptes rendus

Praise for the German edition:
«Dümling has traced a web of connections between yesterday’s Germany and today’s Australia, a history of disgrace, culpability, neglect, unlikely twists of fate and even the occasional happy end.» (Shirley Apthorp, The Australian)
«Dümling is probably best known as the curator of Degenerate Music, an important exhibition about Nazi propaganda in music. In The Vanished Musicians his approach is like that of a curator who brings neglected historical exhibits to light.» (Glenn Nicholls, Inside Story)
«The liveliness Dümling manages to transmit in his stories [...] makes the book a compelling read.»(Andrea Bandhauer, Shofar)


Exile Studies. Vol. 14
General Editor: Franziska Meyer

Table des matières (PDF)

List of Figures xvii
Acknowledgements xxiii
List of Abbreviations xxvii

Chapter 1 Australia: So Far, and Yet so Near 1

Chapter 2 ‘Oh sacred Art’: On the Status of Music
The Jewish Bourgeoisie and the Music Profession 9
More German than the Germans: Jews in Berlin 14
Women in the Music Profession 19
Acculturation through Music 20
The Blue Danube: Jews in Vienna 23
Women Musicians 26
Vocation or Hobby? 27
‘In the Prater, Trees are Blooming again’: The Leopoldstadt District 28

Chapter 3 Failed Integration: Getting out of Germany, 1933–1937
The ‘Cleansing’ of Musical Life 31
Jazz: Object of Hate 39
Race and Religion 42
‘Flying like foam …’: From Kulturbund Deutscher Juden to Jüdischer Kulturbund 46
Early Escape 51

Chapter 4 On the Other Side of the World
Spirit of Adventure? Off to Australia as Musicians 53
Celebrities on Tour: Jascha and Tossy Spivakovsky 60
No Opportunities in Germany, even as a ‘Half Jew’ 63
Refuge Britain 72
Arrival with the Royal Grand Opera Company 75

Chapter 5 Mixed Feelings: Australian Reactions to German Racial Politics 81

Chapter 6 ‘Muss i denn, muss i denn zum Städtele hinaus?’: Persecution and Flight
Berlin 1938 89
The Ghettoisation of Musicians 90
‘My nature is not to join in hate but to join in love’ 93
‘An infinitely tougher regime’: Vienna after the Anschluss 95
Political Refugees 106
‘Musicians Unsuitable’: Immigration Policy in Britain and Australia 108
‘There’s a ship, the black freighter’: Ways of Escape, 1938
Direct Travellers to Australia 111
Via Britain 115
Via France 118
Via Luxembourg 121
Further Detours (India, Singapore) 122

Chapter 7 After Kristallnacht
Detour via Sachsenhausen 129
Bach Fugues and the Volga Boat Song: Organist in Singapore 134
‘Protective Custody’ in Dachau 137
Ultimate Destination Australia
Transit via Britain 143
Urgently Sought: Guarantors for Australia 148
‘Larino, safe haven’: The Kindertransports 154
‘Where everybody goes’: New Attractions in Singapore 156
‘Song of the Moldau’: Escape from Prague and Budapest 159

Chapter 8 The Refugee Problem from an Australian Perspective
Thorold Waters and the Australian Musical News 165
‘I’m absolutely plagued by refugees’: Bernard Heinze and the ABC 167
‘The fickle nature of the Australian musical public’: Handling the Immigrants 170
Final Negotiations: Official Immigration Policy 176
‘You will be all right’: Arrival in Australia 183

Chapter 9 Under Union Scrutiny: The Weintraubs Syncopators
The Fight for Jobs 191
‘Somewhere in the World’: Jazz Stars on Tour 196
From Concert Tour to Immigration 200
‘My Melancholy Baby’: Prince’s Restaurant 206
Waiting for Residence Permits 211

Chapter 10
‘Down with the fifth column!’: Britain during the War 217
‘Collar the lot!’ The Internment of ‘Enemy Aliens’ 219
‘My luggage went into the ocean’: The Arandora Star and Dunera 222

Chapter 11 Interned and Defamed in Australia
The Hour of Denunciation 227
Ousted by Competitors: The Fate of the Weintraubs 235

Chapter 12 ‘In corrugated iron huts’: Deported to Hay and Tatura
‘I came here a stranger’: Arrival at the Camp 253
‘Hay Days’: Music behind Barbed Wire 255
‘It is hope that keeps us going’: Meeting Place Tatura 269
New Perspectives 282

Chapter 13 Snow White in Uniform: The Music Revue Sergeant Snow White
‘A funny looking crowd’: The Eighth Australian Employment Company 283
‘Some Day My Prince Will Come’: Walt Disney’s Snow White Film 289
Jew-ropeans in Australia: The Revue Text 293
Blue Danube, Brown Spree: Viennese Melodies instead of German Music 300
‘Sounds of Europe’ 303

Chapter 14 The Year 1945: Lost and Found
Remigration or Naturalisation? 307
‘Deported to Poland’: Bad News from Europe 310
Stages of Integration 314
Ironing or Music? Deciding on a Vocation 317

Chapter 15
‘The cultivated enthusiasm of a handful of missionaries’: The Genesis of Musica Viva Australia 325
Richard Goldner’s Sydney Musica Viva 330
The Rebirth 339

Chapter 16 Between Adjustment and Self-Assertion: Refugee Contributions to Australian Musical Life
Conductors 345
Orchestral Musicians 357
Choirs 361
Soloists 363
Opera 374
Synagogues 379
Ballet and Dance Theatre 384
Popular Music 387
Music Education 391
Music Critics 393

Chapter 17
‘Land of Mine’: New Compositions for a New Australia 401
‘The Back of Beyond’: Film Music Pioneers 402
‘Vereinsamt’[‘Loneliness’]: Composing in Secret 405
‘Dear land we love’: New Beginnings 411
Moses Mendelssohn’s Legacy: Felix Werder 414
The Art of Adaptation: George Dreyfus 417
Two Diametrically Opposed Concepts of Music 423

Chapter 18 ‘Happily ever after’: Hidden Contributions to Cultural Diversity 429

Notes 439
Short Biographies 483
Ship Arrivals 533
Sources and Bibliography 537
Glossary 557
Index 559
About the Translator 572