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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000111.txt from 2004/12

From: "Lelia Loban" <>
Subj: [kl] Scaramouche
Date: Sun, 5 Dec 2004 21:37:40 -0500

Dan Leeson wrote,
> Why on earth would Rascher have been forced to leave Germany in
> 1939?? That is very much new news to me.

Kurt Heisig wrote,
>>Rascher told me that he had had to flee Germany in '39.
>>I had always wished that I had asked him why.

David Glenn wrote:
>>> Scaramouche was written for Sigurd Rascher in 1939.
>>>Here's what I hear from Carina Rascher: She tells me
>>>that her father Sigurd was forced to emmigrate from
>>>Germany in 1939 and for his protection, an obituary
>>>was published. Otherwise, he was afraid the Nazis
>>>would chase him down.

Dan cast doubt on the story and posted a biography of Rascher, compiled
from Internet sources, that gave no information about Sigurd Rascher
fleeing the Nazis. I checked the biography published at the beginning of
the 1977 Fischer 3rd edition of Rascher's exercise book, "Top-Tones for the
Saxophone Four-Octave Range," first published in 1941. Rascher signed the
forewords to the second and third editions and wrote all of the text notes
within, but the biography and the foreword to the first edition are
uncredited. The biography, like the information Dan found, says nothing
about Rascher *fleeing* Nazi Germany, although it does give the relevant
dates when he left and took jobs elsewhere in the world. There is no
biographical note in Schirmer's 1968 first edition of Rascher's "158
Saxophone Exercises."

I was unable to find any mention of Rascher in Michael H. Kater's _The
Twisted Muse: Musicians and Their Music in the Third Reich_ (Oxford and New
York: Oxford University Press, 1997). Kater does cite numerous sources
for the Nazi prejudice against jazz, a particular interest of his. One of
Kater's footnotes references an earlier book by him that I haven't seen,
_Different Drummers: Jazz in the Culture of Nazi Germany_ (New York, 1992).
Of course, Rascher is better known today as a classical musician, but since
the saxophone is so identified with jazz, and since he played
jazz-influenced classical music and was a friend and colleague to numerous
classical musicians who *are* named in _The Twisted Muse_, it seems
plausible to me that he would have felt it prudent to get out of there,
too, whether or not he was under any direct threat.

The distinctive shape of the saxophone made it a natural for Nazi
propaganda posters condemning jazz. The posters featured a continuing
character, a sub-human-looking, racist caricature of an African American
man playing this instrument invented by a Frenchman. There's a nasty
example of a poster featuring this caricature, playing before a
classical-looking conductor wearing tails, on the jacket of the CD and VHS
collection, "The Music Survives! Degenerate Music. Music Suppressed by the
Third Reich," London 452 664-2. The centerfold photo in the accompanying
booklet shows a Nazi-era picture of white people in insulting blackface
costumes, surrounding a man in blackface who's pretending to play a toy
saxophone. Also in the booklet is another Nazi propaganda poster with the
"Entartete Musik" African American character playing a saxophone and
wearing a lapel carnation with a Star of David in the center. The music on
the disk was suppressed by the Nazis and is irrelevant to the Rascher
question except that the package amply documents the Nazi attitude toward
the saxophone.

However, the information that Rascher fled the Nazis does seem to be
regarded as common knowledge among modern saxophone players. According to
Paul Lindemeyer, "The Nazi era made saxophone music unacceptable in Germany
and forced Rascher overseas, eventually to America. His 1939 Carnegie Hall
debut kicked off a concert and teaching career that lasted until 1981."
(_Celebrating the Saxophone_ (New York: Hearst, 1996, p. 51). Thomas
Dreyer-Beers's article, "Influential Soloists," in _The Cambridge Companion
to the Saxophone_, agrees: "After leaving Germany as a result of Nazi
prejudice against the saxophone, Rascher was appointed teacher of saxophone
at the Royal Danish Conservatory in Copenhagen in 1934 and later also
served in a similar capacity at Malmo Conservatory in Sweden. After
relocating to America in 1939, Rascher continued his career...." (edited by
Richard Ingham; Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998, p. 42).
Neither of these authors footnotes a source for the specific information
that Rascher fled the Nazis.

Of course, common knowledge can be wrong, and even first-hand reports,
especially when given years after the events being described, aren't always
reliable. As time goes by, people sometimes revise their own or their
relatives' biographies. But, Dan, aside from the *absence* of the
information in some secondary sources, is there a more specific reason for
your skepticism?

Lelia Loban

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