New York Youth Symphony removes work containing Nazi anthem from concert

Posted on: March 6, 2015

“The New York Youth Symphony has pulled a specially commissioned piece from its program for a performance this Sunday at Carnegie Hall, saying the work’s reference to a Nazi anthem is unsuitable content for a youth orchestra,” writes Jennifer Smith in Wednesday’s (3/4) Wall Street Journal. “The symphony commissioned the work last April from a young Estonian-born composer, Jonas Tarm.” After the orchestra performed the work, Marsh u Nebuttya, in February, “The orchestra received an anonymous letter saying the music contained the Nazi anthem, ‘Horst-Wessel-Lied,’ which is banned in Germany and Austria. The note was signed ‘A Nazi Survivor.’ … The composer [is] a 21-year-old student at the New England Conservatory of Music…. In an email sent Wednesday morning to orchestra students and parents, [Executive Director Shauna] Quill said the decision to remove the piece was ‘highly unusual’ and cited what she described as Mr. Tarm’s refusal to explain the work’s context and meaning to justify his use of the material…. Tarm said he did offer some context—‘not a lot’—for the Nazi anthem’s inclusion in the piece, ‘but they didn’t like it or think it was enough.… This piece is not to provoke anyone. It’s to evoke, to make people think and feel.’ ”

Posted March 6, 2015