The name of Klemperer has long been synonymous with music. One of the greatest conductors of all time, Otto Klemperer was among those titanic figures of the Jewish diaspora of the 1930’s who fructified the Anglo-American cultural landscape. His exile was our good fortune.
In many ways, Klemperer embodied the tragedy of the German-Jewish symbiosis. In his role as director of the Kroll Opera, he had premiered major works by such composers as Stravinsky, Janácek, and Hindemith; by pioneering new styles of performance, he had also become an object of hate for reactionaries, called by the Nazis “Obermusikjude”: “chief music Jew.” Yet, in 1946, Klemperer was the first great emigré to return to Germany after the war, a model of magnanimity, seeking, as he said then, “to heal the wounds made by this terrible time.”