News Item

OREL Foundation Launches Website Devoted to Composers and Music Suppressed During the Nazi Era

02 02, 2009

For Immediate Release

OREL Foundation Launches Website Devoted to Composers and Music Suppressed During the Nazi Era

The website, http://www.orelfoundation.org, a resource for scholars and musicians, is dedicated to furthering research into, and performance of, music by composers banned between 1933 and 1945

Conductor James Conlon is Founder and Artistic Advisor


February 3, 2009 — The OREL Foundation today launched a new website, http://www.orelfoundation.org, devoted to twentieth–century composers whose music was banned during the years of Nazi oppression in Europe.  The most significant English–language website of its kind, http://www.orelfoundation.org provides biographical, bibliographical and media–related material on composers whose careers were destroyed or severely interrupted during the years leading up to and including World War II., a calendar of performances of works by these composers, a discussion forum, and links to important resources.

The goal of www.orelfoundation.org is to be a useful center of information about these “lost” composers and their works.  It is also hoped that the Foundation will become an important resource for the community of scholars and musicians who have already done so much to bring these composers and their works out the shadows of history, as well as for those who have yet to encounter them. 

The website's Artistic Advisor, James Conlon, one of today's preeminent conductors and a vocal advocate for the study and performance of repertoire from composers affected by the rise of Nazism and the events of WWII, remarked:  “It has been nearly ten years since I first imagined forming a foundation to increase awareness of the existence of a large volume of music by composers suppressed between 1933 and 1945. The foundation would provide information on their lives and music, information which has never been readily available or widely disseminated. The eventual goal is to inspire musicians and music–lovers alike to take a greater interest in this lost segment of our cultural heritage, and to foster performances of these works and their return to the repertory. This web site is a first step in that mission.”

The Website — http://www.orelfoundation.org

The website features:

profiles on individual composers

a regularly updated, searchable calendar indicating upcoming performances of works by featured composers throughout the world

a reader forum for the exchange of information, research and other items of interest to the website's visitors

links to publisher information, instrumentation, recordings and other media related to the composers featured on the website

links to other organization around the world who share the goals and interests of The OREL Foundation

Twenty composer profiles are initially featured on the site, with additional composers to be added in the future. Each profile includes a brief article (2000 –2500 words) on the life and work of the composer, bibliography, work list and discography/media section.  The articles, written by scholars expressly for the website, were commissioned and overseen by Professor Michael Beckerman, Chairman of the Musicology Department at New York University and Research Advisor and Founding Board Member of the Foundation.

The list of composers includes Walter Braunfels, Hanns Eisler, Veniamin Fleishman, Hans Gal, Berthold Goldschmidt, Pavel Haas, Karl Amadeus Hartmann, Vitezslave Kapralova, Gideon Klein, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Hans Krasa, Ernst Krenek, Bohuslav Martinu, Franz Schreker, Erwin Schulhoff, Marcel Tyberg, Viktor Ullmann, Jaromir Weinberger, Eric Zeisl and Alexander Zemlinsky. 

In addition, a new, original article or essay will be posted on the home page each month, each commissioned specially for the website and covering issues related to the subject of the suppressed music during the Nazi era.  This “Articles and Essays” section of the site is edited by scholar and author Harvey Sachs.  The first article to appear was written by twentieth–century music scholar and Director of the Franz Schreker Foundation Christopher Hailey.  Titled “Out of the Musicians' Ghetto,” the essay reflects on the loss of this immense body of work from the stage, the cultural conditions that impeded the reintegration of these composers into the musical life of post–war Europe and cultural centers throughout the Western world, as well as the effect of this loss on our understanding of the history of twentieth–century classical music.

The Foundation

The OREL Foundation, is a recently formed 501(c)3 organization dedicated to drawing attention to those composers whose lives, careers and places in the history of classical music were destroyed or irrevocably altered by the events of mid–twentieth–century Europe.  The Foundation's primary goal is to encourage the performance of music suppressed during the Second World War in order to provide audiences of today and tomorrow opportunities to hear these works and, in time, determine their rightful places within the history of twentieth–century classical music.

The Foundation's Leadership Team

The Foundation's goals are inspired by the work of conductor James Conlon, whose passion for the works of these composers has brought many great works out of the shadows of history, as well as other musicians—well–known and less–known—who have taken up this cause in recent years.

Music Director of LA Opera, the Ravinia Festival and the Cincinnati May Festival, James Conlon, is a leading advocate in the ongoing effort to raise public consciousness to the significance of neglected works of composers whose lives were disrupted and whose compositions were banned by the Nazi regime.  Mr. Conlon programs this music and lectures on the subject throughout the U.S. and Europe, and features the composers' works in his Recovered Voices series at LA Opera, Breaking the Silence with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Ravinia, as well as on many of his symphonic concert programs in Europe and the U.S.  In 1999 Mr. Conlon received the Zemlinsky Prize, awarded only once before, for his efforts in bringing the composer's music to international attention, and in 2007, for his efforts in championing the works of these composers, he received the Crystal Globe Award from the Anti–Defamation League (ADL).

In addition to Mr. Conlon, who serves as Founder and Artistic Advisor, other key members of the organizational team include Bruce Kovner of New York, who serves as the Chairman of the Board of Directors.

Robert J. Elias, former Executive Director of several prominent arts organizations, serves as the Foundation's Executive Director, and Professor Beckerman has been instrumental in framing the initial discussions regarding the organization's mission and goals.

Other Projects in the Works

Though the Foundation's leadership hopes, at some future date, to provide funding for projects and performances produced by various musical organizations in the United States and elsewhere, in its early stages the Foundation's emphasis will be on self–initiated and joint projects.  In addition to its website, the Foundation plans to undertake other projects in the furtherance of its mission.

Some of the projects currently under discussion include a major international symposium, to be co–sponsored by a major American university; performance competitions for college and pre–professional musicians, featuring the music of OREL–related composers; publication of a series of composer biographies; translations into English of certain composer biographies; and providing resources for consideration of the college–level teaching community in drawing greater attention to suppressed composers within courses on the history of twentieth–century music and culture.

For more information on The OREL Foundation or the web site, please contact Lisa Jaehnig at Shuman Associates, , (212) 315–1300.

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