Jewish Violinist Finishes Brahms Concert 82 Years After Nazis Interrupted His Father
A Jewish violinist played in Israel on Sunday the complete Brahms Violin Concerto in D major, 82 years after Nazis interrupted his father mid-performance and escorted him offstage, The Week magazine reported.
Ernest Drucker played only the first movement of the Brahms concerto in Cologne, Germany, in 1933 before he was removed by the Nazi officials, who objected to Jewish musicians playing before non-Jewish audiences. But Drucker’s son, Eugene, played the complete Brahms concert with the Ra’anana Symphonette Orchestra on Sunday night.
“I think he would feel a sense of completion,” Eugene, 63, said of his father, who died in 1993. “I think in some ways many aspects of my career served that purpose for him. There is all this emotional energy and intensity loaded into my associations to this piece.”
Eugene is a founding member of the Grammy-winning Emerson String Quartet. He told the Associated Press that finishing his father’s performance was an emotional experience, though he is unsure if it was “my place to correct a history wrong.”
“As a musician I feel like the circle is never completely closed,” he said. “But I was standing there at one point … and I really did start to think about my father.”
Eugene performed the concerto on both Thursday and Sunday night in Ra’anana to commemorate the Judischer Kulturbund, a federation of musicians in Nazi Germany who were segregated because they were Jewish. His father was a founding member of the all-Jewish arts collective.
Being a top student at the Cologne conservatory of music, Ernest Drucker was scheduled to play the entire Brahms concerto at his graduation ceremony in the summer of 1933, the AP reported. Shortly before the event, he noticed his name was crossed off the program. After his teacher threatened to resign if Drucker’s name was not reinstated, the school’s new Nazi administrators agreed to let the violinist perform only the first movement before being replaced by a non-Jew. The graduate performed in front of Nazi Stormtroopers before being walked offstage, according to the AP.
The incident in Cologne was a “dramatic experience” for the violinist and stayed with him for years, his son said, adding, “music was practically everything to my father.”