Violinist Finishes What the Nazis Interrupted

Nazis forced dad Ernest Drucker offstage in '33
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 2, 2015 2:33 AM CDT
Updated Jun 2, 2015 7:36 AM CDT
82 Years Later, Son Finishes Concerto Nazis Cut Short
In this photo taken Wednesday, May 27, 2015, Grammy Award-winning American violinist Eugene Drucker plays his violin during a rehearsal concert in Raanana, Israel.   (Dan Balilty)

In 1933, promising young Jewish-German violinist Ernest Drucker left the stage midway through a Brahms concerto in Cologne at the behest of Nazi officials, in one of the first anti-Semitic acts of the regime. More than 80 years later, his son, Grammy-winning American violinist Eugene Drucker, has completed his father's interrupted work. With tears in his eyes, Drucker performed an emotional rendition of the Brahms Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 77, over the weekend with the Raanana Symphonette Orchestra in Israel. "I think he would feel a sense of completion. I think in some ways many aspects of my career served that purpose for him," the 63-year-old Drucker said of his father, who passed away in 1993. "There is all this emotional energy and intensity loaded into my associations to this piece."

Thursday's concert, and a second performance Sunday night, commemorated the Judischer Kulturbund—a federation of Jewish musicians in Nazi Germany who were segregated so as not to "sully" Aryan culture. After the humiliation in Cologne, the elder Drucker became a central player in the Kulturbund—to which, initially, the Nazi culture ministry granted relative freedom, so long as its performers and audiences were exclusively Jewish. As the years progressed, however, and the Nazi ideology took deeper root, greater restrictions were imposed until eventually they could only perform Jewish works, with Bach and Beethoven off-limits. The Kulturbund was reduced significantly after the pogroms of Kristallnacht in 1938. Musicians went underground or fled, like Drucker's father, who went to America. Click for more on the Kulturbund and the story of Ernest Drucker, who was supposed to play the entire Brahms concerto at his graduation ceremony at the Cologne conservatory of music. (More World War II stories.)

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