Terry Teachout’s Wall Street Journal column on the forgotten German violinist Adolf Busch raises the questions: “How much would you be willing to inconvenience yourself over a matter of moral principle? Would you sign a petition? Help a friend who was being persecuted? Pull the plug on your career? Or would you simply put your head down and hope that your fellow countrymen would come to their senses sooner or later?”
Teachout places Busch’s name at the very top of the short list of German musicians who refused to kowtow to Adolf Hitler. Teachout points out that this latter aspect of Busch’s life is described in detail in Tully Potter’s Adolf Busch: The Life of an Honest Musician, the first full-length biography of the violinist ever to be published.
Busch expressed his opposition to Hitler by leaving Germany for the United States: “Busch was the only well-known non-Jewish German classical musician to emigrate from Germany solely as a matter of principle–and one of a bare handful of non-Jewish European musicians, including Arturo Toscanini and Pablo Casals, who resolved to stop performing there for the same reason.” Busch’s career suffered in the United States: “[He] was able to eke out a living, but his days of fame were over.” Teachout writes: “It is at once a stirring tale and a disturbing one.” (Teachout has a few more words on the subject here at his blog.)
In his biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer Eric Metaxas explores some of the same questions Teachout raises in connection with Adolf Busch. The author’s site is here and posts links to the video of his interview by Glenn Beck about Bonhoeffer.
Bonhoeffer’s opposition to Hitler led him to return to Germany from the United States. Metaxas traces Bonhoeffer’s resistance to Nazism, providing an account of the path Bonhoeffer took as a Lutheran pastor to join the Abwehr and support efforts to assassinate Hitler. Bonhoeffer paid for his efforts with his life; he was executed by Hitler’s minions at the age of 39.
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