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Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra (Visit)

Volume 440: debated on Wednesday 23 July 1947

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs why the ban on the visit to this country of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, because of the many Nazis among its members, has been lifted, in spite of the fact that it still has 30 Nazi members, and that its leader, Wolfgang Schneiderhahn, is a former voluntary member of the S.S., who made his musical and political reputation under Hitler.

My hon. Friend has been misinformed. His Majesty's Government encouraged the project of a visit to this country of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra last year, after it had been purged of 17 of its members with Nazi connections. For commercial reasons it was not found possible to arrange engagements for the orchestra last year, but no political aspect was involved. I am satisfied that the Austrian Government, whose de-Nazification Law of 6th February, 1947, was only issued after thorough examination by the Allied Council in Vienna, has carried out the de-Nazification of the implicated members of the orchestra. Wolfgang Schneiderhahn is not a figure of any political importance.

Was not the persecution of artists and musicians, on account of their political opinions, among the first signs of incipient Nazi bestiality, and will the Foreign Secretary ensure that we do not follow that bad example?

I realise that the word "artist" covers a wide area and is not limited to musicians. I understand that politics is an art as well.