The 18th World Congress of Jewish Studies

The Exilarte Center at the University for Music and Performing Arts, Vienna

Cultural restitution means returning culture to the people from whom it was stolen. Not only did Jewish composers and performers lose their careers and audiences, audiences lost important composers and performers. The gap that was left has taken years to recover. Reasons for such neglect have varied, with the most trenchant being that banned Jewish composers did not represent the anti-fascist aesthetic needed for the re-education of Europe’s music lovers. Arguments such as “if these composers had not been Jewish, the Nazis would have loved their music” were used to suppress the music long after the fall of the “Third Reich”. The hole in mid-century Central European music became ever more conspicuous until the University for Music in Vienna, where Mahler studied and Korngold taught, provided funding for the first Exile Music Archive and Research Center. Exilarte is, on the one hand, an archive that houses “orphaned” musical estates. These are musical estates offering little relevance to the countries that gave fleeing musicians refuge but retain huge relevance to original homelands. On the other hand, it is a research center enabling the further dissemination of these composers to future generations of performers and scholars. At present, and since our opening in 2017, we have acquired 31 musical estates and partial estates. Each legacy tells a different and unique story of survival and loss. Each one represents a pebble in the greater mosaic of twentieth century music. As we do not discriminate in questions of genre or even reception, we have discovered political and cultural episodes that have often escaped other researchers. This paper will highlight some of the most fascinating, including the story of Hans Winterberg who is to be published by Boosey & Hawkes following our rescue initiatives.