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Music Directors (Appointment Of Aliens)

Volume 437: debated on Thursday 22 May 1947

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asked the Minister of Labour if he is aware that the Bournemouth Town Council has agreed to the appointment of Mr. Rudolph Schwarz, an Austrian, to be Director of Music to the corporation; that several British musicians of the highest qualifications were among the applicants for the post; and whether, in view of the desirability of encouraging native talent, particularly as few opportunities occur for permanent appointments as conductors in this country, he will ask the Bournemouth authorities to reconsider the appointment.

I am aware of the proposed appointment. The position is that an application for permission for Mr. Rudolf Schwarz to stay in this country in order to take up the appointment has just been received and is now under consideration. No decision has yet been reached.

Is the Minister aware of the very grave anxiety among musicians of all classes at this appointment of a foreign musician when there were 72 British applicants for this post, some with the highest musical qualifications and recommended by some of the greatest composers in this country? Is he also aware that in the case of the Scottish Orchestra, Covent Garden, and the B.B.C. Theatre Orchestra, permanent appointments have recently been given to foreigners, to the detriment of British conductors? How on earth are we to train conductors to fill responsible positions when these permanent positions are given to foreigners?

Is it not time we took a broader view? Will the right hon. Gentleman congratulate the Bournemouth Town Council on appointing this man, especially if he happens to be the best man? Is he aware that I know of two British conductors who have recently been appointed to very high positions in this country?

Would it not be best for the Minister to leave this alone and to leave the whole thing to the good sense and taste of the British musical world?

Is the Minister aware that, according to a statement made by the chairman of the committee which made this appointment, one reason why they appointed a foreigner was that no British applicant applied?

Can we have an assurance that the Minister of Labour and his colleagues do not favour the application of a closed shop against Mendelssohn, Bach and Beethoven?