“Music is made for everyone, like the sun and air”.

Jewish Musicians persecuted by Fascist Italy 1938-1945

Project by Annalisa Capristo and Alessandro Carrieri

Wedding banquet at the Levi-Anau wedding, São Paulo, Brazil, 1940: the second from the left is Maestro Lionello Morpurgo, former violinist at the Verdi Theater in Trieste (as well as director of the choir of the Trieste Synagogue), who had lost his job due to the promulgation of the Racial Laws (ERPAC-AMMER, Claudio Finzi private collection)

The study of Fascist anti-Jewish persecution in the field of music is an area of research that has yet to be explored systematically. Despite the extensive bibliography available on the effects of the Italian Racial Laws of 1938, there needs to be a comprehensive historiographic reconstruction specifically concerning the impact of Jewish persecution on the Italian music scene. Likewise, no exhaustive list is available of the musicians and members of the Italian opera scene who were affected by the anti-Semitic measure. The few exceptions concerned individual musical institutions or some figures already famous at the time.

This project, curated by Annalisa Capristo and Alessandro Carrieri, has been ongoing since June 2021. It was conceived to bridge this historical gap by bringing to light the names and faces of the many musicians persecuted, forced into exile, or killed during the Holocaust.

The aims are the publication of a scientific monograph, an open-access database, and a digital exhibition enriched with new documents and photographs from public and private archives.

The starting point for the project was an International Conference held in Trieste on October 26, 2015, in partnership with the Department of Humanities of the University of Trieste as part of Festival Viktor Ullmann (I compositori e i musicisti ebrei italiani durante il Fascismo). Palgrave Macmillan published the proceeding of the Conference in 2021 (Italian Jewish Musicians and Composers under Fascism. Let Our Music Be Played). The first mapping of the research area and sources were published in the essay, Fonti per lo studio della persecuzione antiebraica fascista nel settore musicale, published in 2018 (Milan, IAML Italy) by A. Capristo.

The project’s first phase was curating a bilingual (Italian-English) panel dedicated to Trieste’s musicians and titled Jews and the “città musicalissima”, inaugurated on December 21, 2021, in the Culture section of the Museum.

During that occasion, Daniela Massarani, granddaughter of composer Renzo Massarani (Mantua, 1898 – Rio de Janeiro, 1975), generously donated the archival family collection to the Museum.

The project is in collaboration with the Department of Humanities of the University of Trieste, the Viktor Ullmann Festival, and – since 2023 -the Forum Voix Étouffées, the Trieste Music Conservatory “G. Tartini”, and the Civico Museo Teatrale “Carlo Schmidl”.

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