Friday, September 28, 2012

Great Singer of the Week: Joseph Schmidt

Somehow hearing the rhetoric of a presidential campaign makes me think of Fascists and Nazis--wonder what that's about?--and then I think of great singers who were silenced by the Second World War. One such singer was Joseph Schmidt. According to the Wikipedia article linked above:
Ironically, Joseph Schmidt enjoyed his greatest successes during the rise of the German Nazis, who subsequently prohibited Jewish artists and writers from working. In 1937, he toured the United States and performed in Carnegie Hall together with other prominent singers such as Grace Moore. The Nazis banned him from performing in Germany and Austria, but he was still very much welcome in the Netherlands and Belgium, where he was immensely popular.

In 1939, he visited his mother in Czernowitz for the last time. When the war broke out that year he was caught in France by the German invasion. He attempted to escape to the United States but, unfortunately, this failed. Making a dash for the Swiss border, he was interned in a Swiss refugee camp in Gyrenbad near Zürich in October 1942. He had been already in frail health. Harsh camp life and lack of medical care brought about a fatal heart attack on November 16, 1942. He was only 38 years old.

Here he sings Una furtiva lagrima.  From an uncredited movie.

Here is Dein ist mein ganzes Herz.  In truth, I had originally planned to do a post with several different tenors singing this ditty, but once I found Joseph Schmidt, I didn't want to look any further.

Let's not forget the artists who fall victim to political rhetoric and warfare, even in our own time.

Yes, I have strong political opinions.  Sue me.

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