The Worlds of Refugee Musicians

By the mid-20th century, Elizabeth Braw reports, “virtually every American conservatoire and symphony orchestra [included] highly skilled musicians from countries ravaged either by the Nazis, the Soviets, or both.” Since that time, a sort of community has formed around musicians who fled violence and brought distinctive musical traditions to their new homes. As Braw notes, many such musicians will soon assemble in the Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra, a project of New York’s Metropolitan Opera and the Polish National Opera.

One day in 1939, a sixteen-year-old named Menahem Pressler from the German city of Magdeburg arrived with his family in Israel after having escaped the Nazis’ persecution of Jews. Seven years later, the piano prodigy was a famous soloist in American and European concert halls. To this day, the now-ninety-nine-year-old remains a venerated professor of music at Indiana University (IU) and continues to teach the piano. He’s just one of countless musicians who have been uprooted by war or persecution—to the benefit of conservatoires, orchestras, and concert halls in other countries.

When, in 1955, Pressler decided to scale back on his soloist career and joined the music faculty of at Indiana, he became part of a conservatoire that was already home to several other refugees from Nazism. The European refugees, in fact, helped raise the Jacobs School of Music to such heights that it was often said that the conservatory should thank two men for its success: IU’s President Herman Wells and Adolf Hitler.

[Among the best-known refugee musicians are] the Jewish-German cellist Anita Lasker-Wallfisch (a former member of the Women’s Orchestra of Auschwitz), the Jewish-German conductors Bruno Walter and Otto Klemperer, the Jewish-Austrian composer Arnold Schönberg, Jewish-Austrian violinist Max Rostal, [and others]. Many other exiled musicians were far less famous, serving as orchestral players or instrumental teachers. But all brought a phenomenal skill and verve to orchestras, conservatoires, and teaching.

Read more at Engelsberg Ideas

More about: Classical music, Refugees, War in Ukraine, World War II


Hizballah Is Learning Israel’s Weak Spots

On Tuesday, a Hizballah drone attack injured three people in northern Israel. The next day, another attack, targeting an IDF base, injured eighteen people, six of them seriously, in Arab al-Amshe, also in the north. This second attack involved the simultaneous use of drones carrying explosives and guided antitank missiles. In both cases, the defensive systems that performed so successfully last weekend failed to stop the drones and missiles. Ron Ben-Yishai has a straightforward explanation as to why: the Lebanon-backed terrorist group is getting better at evading Israel defenses. He explains the three basis systems used to pilot these unmanned aircraft, and their practical effects:

These systems allow drones to act similarly to fighter jets, using “dead zones”—areas not visible to radar or other optical detection—to approach targets. They fly low initially, then ascend just before crashing and detonating on the target. The terrain of southern Lebanon is particularly conducive to such attacks.

But this requires skills that the terror group has honed over months of fighting against Israel. The latest attacks involved a large drone capable of carrying over 50 kg (110 lbs.) of explosives. The terrorists have likely analyzed Israel’s alert and interception systems, recognizing that shooting down their drones requires early detection to allow sufficient time for launching interceptors.

The IDF tries to detect any incoming drones on its radar, as it had done prior to the war. Despite Hizballah’s learning curve, the IDF’s technological edge offers an advantage. However, the military must recognize that any measure it takes is quickly observed and analyzed, and even the most effective defenses can be incomplete. The terrain near the Lebanon-Israel border continues to pose a challenge, necessitating technological solutions and significant financial investment.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Hizballah, Iron Dome, Israeli Security