Guest Lecture Series: Dr. Silvia Kargl and Dr. Friedemann Pestel

  • Dr. Silvia Kargl and Dr. Friedemann Pestel

Guest Lecture Series: Music History and Music Theory

The German Reich’s Other Flagship Orchestra?
The Vienna Philharmonic, National Socialism and Beyond

Dr. Silvia Kargl, Historical Archives of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra

Dr. Friedemann Pestel, University of Freiburg/University of California, Berkeley


February 16, 2023 at 4:00pm

Contemporary Art Center, Colloquium Room (3rd floor)

Free and open to the public


Austria’s annexation by the German Reich in 1938 brought about the largest crisis in the history of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra affecting both the institution as a whole as well as individual orchestra members. Nazi cultural alignment threatened the orchestra’s status and independence as a private and self-governing institution the Vienna Philharmonic had been since its foundation in 1842. In contrast to the Berlin Philharmonic, which after the Nazi takeover in 1933 had become a “Reich’s Orchestra” attached to the German Ministry of Propaganda, the Vienna Philharmonic managed to preserve its nominal independence but had to make substantial concessions to Nazi cultural politics.

This talk discusses different levels and perspectives of the Vienna Philharmonic’s arrangement with the Nazi regime after 1938: the orchestra’s precarious institutional status; the exclusion, persecution and extermination of its Jewish members; the orchestras active contribution to legitimizing the Nazi regime through culture as well as its touring activities.

After the end of Nazi rule in 1945, the Vienna Philharmonic, for decades, became an active promoter of the Austrian post-war “victim myth” though debates about its role under National Socialism never ceased. At the end of the 1980s, facing increasing domestic and international pressure the orchestra slowly turned to addressing its controversial past – a process that continues to this day.


Silvia Kargl is archivist of the Historical Archives of the Vienna Philharmonic. She graduated from the University of Vienna in Theater Studies and History and studied Dance Theory at the John Neumeier’s Ballet Center in Hamburg. She previously worked for the Austrian Theater Museum, the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde Wien and the Arnold Schoenberg Center in Vienna. She is also managing the Alexander Zemlinsky Fund in Vienna and works a dance critic. Kargl’s publications cover the history of the Vienna Philharmonic and the history of dance. She co-curated exhibitions on “175 Years Vienna and New York Philharmonic” in New York and Vienna and the Vienna Philharmonic in the Konzerthaus Berlin. In 2020 she received the Austrian Cross of Honor for Science and Art.

Friedemann Pestel teaches Modern European History at the University of Freiburg/Germany. In 2022/23 he is a Visiting Scholar at the Institute of European Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. He has previously been a visiting fellow at the German Historical Institutes in Paris and London, the Universities of Vienna and Bordeaux and the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies. His research interests and publications cover the French and Haitian Revolutions, political migration, the history of classical musical life and musical mobility as well as memory studies. He is currently completing a global history of orchestral touring in the 20th century.

Thursday Feb 16, 2023, 4:00 pm