Red tune too much for German musicians

8th June 2004, Comments 0 comments

8 June 2004 , KASSEL - A German orchestra was threatened with dismissal after instrumentalists mutinied over having to play the communist anthem, the Internationale, for an audience of blue-collar car-assembly workers, state officials said. Musicians born in communist East Germany said the tune gave them unpleasant memories. So it was replaced by another stirring revolutionary tune, the Marseillaise, in the curtain-raiser concert before a Volkswagen workers' meeting. Christoph Nix, director general of the

8 June 2004

KASSEL - A German orchestra was threatened with dismissal after instrumentalists mutinied over having to play the communist anthem, the Internationale, for an audience of blue-collar car-assembly workers, state officials said.

Musicians born in communist East Germany said the tune gave them unpleasant memories. So it was replaced by another stirring revolutionary tune, the Marseillaise, in the curtain-raiser concert before a Volkswagen workers' meeting.

Christoph Nix, director general of the Kassel Staatstheater, denied he had threatened to fire anybody, but Adrienne Lochte, a spokeswoman for the Hesse state culture department which subsidises the orchestra, said in Wiesbaden there had been a threat.

"We believe it is unacceptable to pressurize in this way orchestra members who suffered under communism," she said.

Nix said the players complained directly to the ministry and not to him after he said their protest was infantile. Nix said the Volkswagen works council had asked for the Internationale to be played, but had left the final programme up to him.

Musik director Roberto Paternostro, who voiced the orchestra's objections, said it was "insensitive" to ask it to play the tune at the paid appearance in the car plant 160 kilometres north of Kassel.

Singing the Internationale standing with fist clenched was a bonding experience at communist gatherings around the world for decades. It was the Soviet national anthem before 1944. The melody was composed in 1888 by Pierre Degeyter.

The Marseillaise was composed by Claude-Joseph Rouget de Lisle in 1792 and is the French national anthem.

 

DPA

Subject: German news

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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