Tag Archives: jews

In consumer fraud case, Judge orders ‘ex-gay’ counseling nonprofit to close

A New Jersey nonprofit found to have violated consumer fraud laws for offering therapy it said would turn gays to heterosexuals must shut down, a judge ordered this month.

The granting of a permanent injunction against Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing, known as JONAH, was an outgrowth of a lawsuit filed against the group in 2012 by several men, and two of their mothers, claiming it engaged in fraud and made claims it couldn’t back up.

In June, a Hudson County jury awarded the plaintiffs about $72,000 in damages.

The ruling signed by state Superior Court Judge Peter Bariso ordered Jersey City-based JONAH to cease all operations within 30 days and barred it from “engaging, whether directly or through referrals, in any therapy, counseling, treatment or activity that has the goal of changing, affecting or influencing sexual orientation, ‘same sex attraction’ or ‘gender wholeness.'”

Bariso’s order also awarded attorneys’ fees and expenses to the plaintiffs’ lawyers.

David Dinielli, an attorney for the men, said the decision sends a message to providers of so-called gay conversion therapy that the practice is fraudulent.

“The practice of conversion therapy, at base, constitutes fraud,” he said. “It is premised on the lie that homosexuality is a disease or disorder. This case proved it to be a lie.”

An attorney who represented JONAH at the trial did not immediately return a message seeking comment. The group had claimed that it did not make guarantees to clients and that it should be allowed to offer help to people struggling with their sexual orientation.

The four original plaintiffs in the lawsuit who underwent the therapy — one ultimately dropped out of the suit —alleged the nonprofit exploited them with false promises as they struggled with their same-sex attractions in strict religious environments where they were expected to marry women and have children.

One testified his therapy included hitting a pillow, meant to represent his mother, with a tennis racket. He said he was told his mother was the cause of his homosexuality, prompting him to temporarily cut off all communications with her.

Gov. Chris Christie signed a law in 2013 banning licensed therapists from practicing conversion therapy in New Jersey. Two court challenges to the ban, one by a couple and their son and one by a group that included two licensed therapists, were dismissed by a federal judge. Those decisions were later affirmed by a federal appeals court.

New Jersey’s ban was not raised during the trial because JONAH employees weren’t licensed therapists.

‘Season of Light’ goes dark

I usually write something frothy around the holidays, but the terrible events in Beirut and Paris and now in a women’s clinic in Colorado have turned the so-called “season of light” into something dark and foreboding.

Contributing to the toxic atmosphere have been comments from politicians that incite violence, scapegoat refugees and spread prejudice and xenophobia. That includes Carly Fiorina’s deliberate, vicious lies about Planned Parenthood; Ben Carson’s reference to Syrian refugees as “dogs” from whom we have to remove the “rabid” element; and Donald Trump’s scurrilous description of Mexicans as criminals and rapists.

We are right to be concerned about the growing threat from ISIS, but we should be equally concerned about the Taliban-like rantings of our own political leaders. Attacking our government as incapable of screening refugees (when in fact multiple agencies spend up to two years vetting individuals) and characterizing desperate victims fleeing ISIS terror as would-be terrorists is utterly counterproductive.

We have demonized refugees and immigrants during many crises in the past and have always come to regret our behavior. 

In the 1930s and 1940s we shut the door to Jews fleeing Germany and Nazi-occupied Europe. This was due to a prevailing anti-Semitism among the public (registered in many polls) and to the blatant anti-Semitic views of administrators in our State Department and Visa Division. Memos to President Franklin Roosevelt also cited fear of “penetration of German agents” as rationale for keeping Jews out.

After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Roosevelt signed an executive order to intern Japanese-Americans, most of them U.S. citizens. More than 120,000 people were deprived of due process, shorn of their goods and property and imprisoned in isolated camps patrolled by armed guards. The census bureau provided the demographic data used to locate and lock up these innocent people.

While their families suffered in camps, thousands of Japanese-Americans won distinction fighting against the Nazis in the 442nd Infantry Regiment. Of the 14,000 men who served, 9,486 received Purple Hearts, 560 won Silver Stars for valor and 21 won our highest military award, the Medal of Honor.

Today, many Mexicans and other Latinos new to the United States join the Armed Forces as a means to earn citizenship. The people demeaned by Donald Trump are actually playing an outsize role in the defense of our country.

As for Planned Parenthood, in the past 38 years, 10 doctors, clinic personnel or patients have been assassinated. Other acts of violence include: 26 attempted murders; 42 bombings; 182 arson attacks; 199 assaults; 1,507 incidents of vandalism; 80 acid attacks; and 983 death threats or stalking incidents. 

Women who go to Planned Parenthood clinics for health services and birth control are routinely harassed by screaming crowds of anti-abortion zealots. In this context it is a travesty that the media fails to identify the latest attack as an act of domestic terrorism. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo did the right thing by ordering state police to protect Planned Parenthood clinics in that state. 

While we deplore the misogynist cruelty of ISIS and the Taliban abroad, we must fight the growing terrorism against women here at home.

For end-of-year charitable donations, I recommend giving to Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin at www.ppwi.org and the United Nations Refugee agency at www.unhcr.org. Your donations will support critical services and make an important political statement in these times of domestic and international terrorism.

Refugee crisis recalls that of Jews in WWII

Sol Messinger was just 7 when he stood with his father at the rail of the ocean liner St. Louis and stared into the gathering darkness. But nearly eight decades later, Messinger still recalls the lights of Miami glittering off the bow, so near to him and more than 900 fellow Jewish refugees aboard, yet beyond their reach.

“I look out into the ocean and I get this queasy feeling,” says Messinger, whose family escaped Europe for the United States three years after American officials turned away the vessel in 1939. Now 83, he is a pathologist in Buffalo, New York. “The Jews did not pose any threat to the U.S. It’s really unforgivable.”

Now, fresh angst about whether to admit refugees or turn them away has put the spotlight back on the shunning of the St. Louis and other decisions, now widely regretted, by U.S. officials before and during World War II.

In the wake of Islamic State terrorists killing 130 people in Paris, a backlash against the United States admitting Syrian refugees — many of them Muslims — has fueled a bitter debate, with politicians, pundits and others drawing lines between present and past.

Similarities between the rhetoric of today and the attitudes of the U.S. public and officials during World War II make that history worth recalling, scholars say, as the country confronts new fears of terrorism.

“No historical parallel is perfect, obviously,” says Allan Lichtman, co-author of FDR and the Jews and a professor of history at American University.

But U.S. limits on refugees during World War II, influenced by anti-Semitism, were fed by fears the Nazis “would plant agents, spies and saboteurs among the Jewish refugees and that they would pressure the Jews, particularly those whose families were still in Germany, to act as agents on behalf of the Third Reich,” Lichtman said. “Those arguments are chillingly similar to the arguments being made against the admission of the Syrian refugees.”

The 1930s saw widespread disdain for Jewish people from Europe. Opposition to admitting refugees was heightened by the economic worries left by the Great Depression. Those public attitudes were reinforced by the U.S. State Department and other agencies, which worked to limit an influx of Jewish people whom FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover labeled as potential infiltrators, he said.

When President Franklin Delano Roosevelt pondered relaxation of refugee quotas, Vice President John Nance Garner counseled that if Congress were allowed to vote in private, the lawmakers would ban immigration altogether, Lichtman said.

Lichtman isn’t alone in making the comparison. Recently, Ohio professor Peter Shulman of Case Western Reserve University used Twitter to post results from a 1938 public opinion poll showing Americans overwhelmingly rejected admission of Jewish people from Germany in the years leading up to the outbreak of war.

The reaction “was instantaneous and totally overwhelming. It was like nothing I’ve ever experienced before,” said Shulman.

New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio, criticizing a number of Republican governors — including Scott Walker of Wisconsin — for opposing admission of Syrian refugees, cited the 1938 poll, which said 67.4 percent of Americans said the U.S. should try to keep German and Austrian refugees out of the country and 61 percent opposed allowing 10,000 German Jewish children to enter.

“We are not going to make that mistake in our time and voices of intolerance and voices of division are not going to cause us to do something that is against our values,” DeBlasio said.

“When we sent Jews back to Germany and when we sent Japanese to internment camps, we regretted it and we will regret this as well,” U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., said before 47 House Democrats and 242 Republicans voted for a bill to put new security limits on a plan by President Barack Obama to admit 10,000 Syrian refugees over the next year.

Responding to the vote, Karin Johanson, director of the American Civil Liberty Union’s D.C. legislative office, said House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., “and this un-American bill’s supporters falsely claim it will simply pause U.S. resettlement of refugees. In fact, it will bring resettlement of Syrian and Iraqi refugees to a grinding halt by adding layers of bureaucracy to an already rigorous process. It also discriminates against refugees based on their national origin, nationality and religion. Supporters of this bill want us to turn our backs on refugees who are seeking safe harbor from the very terrorism we all abhor. This is not leadership.”

There is a long pattern in U.S. politics of labeling refugees as a threat, whether those fleeing the Nazis, refugees of the Hungarian Revolution or boat people uprooted by the Vietnam War, said Kelly Greenhill, author of Weapons of Mass Migration: Forced Displacement, Coercion and Foreign Policy.

“Every time this country is confronted with .… a visible influx of people, the issue becomes politicized,” said Greenhill, a professor of political science at Tufts University and a research fellow at Harvard University’s school of government. “This is a movie we’ve seen before and it’s sort of unfortunate, but it has a curious sameness across time, which doesn’t make it better.”

In the years since World War II, the U.S. has become the world’s largest recipient of international refugees. 

But of the 784,000 refugees resettled in the U.S. since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, just three have been arrested for planning terrorist activities, according to the Migration Policy Institute, a non-partisan think tank. Only one of those, an Uzbeki immigrant, spoke of targeting the United States but had no specific plans, the institute said.

While taking in 10,000 Syrian refugees would be a significant increase from the roughly 2,000 admitted since the country’s civil war began in 2011, it is a fraction of those going to other countries. Up to 800,000 people are expected to seek asylum in Germany by the end of this year, according to MPI.

Trump wants all Muslims in the U.S. to be registered and tracked by government

Donald Trump’s support for a government database to track Muslims in the United States is drawing sharp rebukes from his Republican president rivals as they try to distance themselves from a proposal that legal experts say is unconstitutional, The Associated Press reported today.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush called the prospect of a registry “abhorrent.” Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said the idea was “unnecessary” and not something Americans would support.

Even Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who has largely avoided criticizing Trump, said, “I’m not a fan of government registries of American citizens.”

“The First Amendment protects religious liberty, and I’ve spent the past several decades defending the religious liberty of every American,” Cruz told reporters in Sioux City, Iowa.

Dr. Ben Carson rejected the idea of tracking U.S. citizens based on their religion.

Instead, he said the U.S. should have a database on “every foreigner who comes into this country.”

Many people have compared the concept to Hitler’s forcing of Jews to wear yellow stars on their clothes in Nazi Germany.

The first reference to a database came in a Trump interview with Yahoo News published Thursday. Later that day, an NBC News reporter pressed him on whether, as president, he would implement a database system for tracking Muslims in the United States.

“I would certainly implement that. Absolutely,” he replied.

Trump also told the reporter that Muslims would “have to be” registered and said the registration process could occur at “different places.”

On Fox News Channel  Friday evening, Trump said, “I want a watch list for the Syrian refugees that (President Barack) Obama’s going to let in if we don’t stop him as Republicans. … I want to have watch lists. I want to have surveillance. I mean, we’re not a bunch of babies,” he said.

Trump has also the U.S. should increase surveillance of mosques and consider closing those that are tied to radicals. He said the country should be prepared to suspend some civil liberties

The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for attacks in Paris that killed 130 people and wounded hundreds more. The attacks have raised fears in the U.S. and prompted the House to pass legislation this past week essentially barring Syrian and Iraqi refugees from the United States.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, has slotted the bill for possible Senate consideration, though it’s unclear whether the chamber could get enough votes to override a threatened veto by President Barack Obama.

Civil liberties experts told AP that a database for Muslims would be unconstitutional on several counts. The libertarian Cato Institute’s Ilya Shapiro said the idea violates basic privacy and liberty rights.

Marci Hamilton, a Yeshiva University legal expert on religious liberty, said requiring Muslims to register appears to be a clear violation of the Constitution’s protection of religious freedom.

“What the First Amendment does and what it should do is drive the government to use neutral criteria,” Hamilton said. “You can use neutral criteria to identify terrorists. What it can’t do is engage in one-religion bashing. That won’t fly in any court.”

At a Tennessee rally Friday evening, Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton said, “Mr. Trump has attacked Mexican immigrants, he’s attacked women, and now he’s attacking Muslim Americans. At some point you have to ask yourself, is that the kind of country we are?”

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders blasted Trump’s words as “outrageous and bigoted.”

Most Americans believe in heaven and hell

About 72 percent of Americans say they believe in heaven, as defined as a place “where people who have led good lives are eternally rewarded.”

This is according to Pew Research Center’s Religious Landscape Study.

The same study found that 58 percent of adults in the United States believe in hell, as defined as a place “where people who have led bad lives and die without being sorry are eternally punished.”

Pew said the percentages haven’t changed much since 2007, when the question was last asked.

Pew said about 95 percent of Mormons and 93 percent of those affiliated with historically black Protestant denominations believe in heaven. About eight in 10 evangelical Protestants, Catholics, Orthodox Christians and mainline Protestants also say they believe.

About 89 percent of Muslims say they believe in heaven and 76 believe in hell.

Pew said roughly a third or less of Buddhists, Hindus and Jews believe in hell and half or fewer believe in heaven.

Among atheists and agnostics, about 37 percent believe in heaven and 27 percent believe in hell.

Holocaust survivor debunks Ben Carson’s claim that Jews would have fared better in Nazi Germany with guns

A professor of history and Holocaust studies debunked Ben Carson’s suggestion that fewer people would have been killed in the Holocaust had there been greater access to guns in an op-ed for The New York Times, explaining that such assertions “are difficult to fathom” for anyone “who studies Nazi Germany and the Holocaust for a living.”

Ben Carson has come under fire after an Oct. 8 interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer where he claimed that the number of people killed in the Holocaust “would have been greatly diminished if the people had been armed.” Carson’s comments were immediately called out as “historically inaccurate” by the Anti-Defamation League, but Fox News figures continuously stood by the controversial comments, which parroted an old right-wing media talking point.

In an October 14 op-ed for The New York Times, Alan Steinweis, a Holocaust studies and history professor at the University of Vermont, wrote that Carson’s comments are “strangely ahistorical, a classic instance of injecting an issue that is important in our place and time into a historical situation where it was not seen as important.” Steinweiss went on to assert that contrary to the talking points popularized by conservative media and echoed by Carson, he “can think of no serious work of scholarship on the Nazi dictatorship or on the causes of the Holocaust in which Nazi gun control measures feature as a significant factor” and that such assertions “trivialize” the experience of Jews in Europe during the 1930s and 1940s:

“To anyone who studies Nazi Germany and the Holocaust for a living, as I do, Ben Carson’s statements about gun control are difficult to fathom. “I think the likelihood of Hitler being able to accomplish his goals would have been greatly diminished if the people had been armed,” the Republican presidential candidate said in a recent interview.

Mr. Carson’s argument, which he made in his new book A More Perfect Union and was asked to defend last week, is strangely ahistorical, a classic instance of injecting an issue that is important in our place and time into a historical situation where it was not seen as important. I can think of no serious work of scholarship on the Nazi dictatorship or on the causes of the Holocaust in which Nazi gun control measures feature as a significant factor. Neither does gun control figure in the collective historical memory of any group that was targeted by the Nazi regime, be they Jews, Gypsies, the disabled, gay people or Poles. It is simply a nonissue.”

Steinweis continues:

“Mr. Carson’s remarks not only trivialize the predicament in which Jews found themselves in Germany and elsewhere in Europe during the 1930s and 1940s. They also trivialize the serious, prolonged and admirable efforts undertaken by many Germans to work through the causes of their country’s catastrophic mistakes of that period.

“The origins of the Nazi dictatorship are to be found in the authoritarian legacy of the German Empire, the inability to cope with the defeat in World War I and the failure to achieve political compromise during the Weimar Republic. When it comes to explaining the Holocaust, Germans inquire about the place of anti-Semitism and xenophobia in their society and about the psychological and cultural factors that led ordinary citizens to participate in, or to accept, horrific atrocities. They understand their own history well enough to avoid being distracted by demagogy about gun control.

“If the United States is going to arrive at a workable compromise solution to its gun problem, it will not be accomplished through the use of historical analogies that are false, silly and insulting. Similarly, coming to terms with a civilizational breach of the magnitude of the Holocaust requires a serious encounter with history, rather than political sloganeering that exploits history as a prop for mobilizing one’s base.”

Obama: On the liberation of Dachau 70 years ago

President Barack Obama, on April 29, issued the following statement on the liberation of Dachau 70 years ago.

The president said, “On this day, we remember when American forces liberated Dachau 70 years ago, dismantling the first concentration camp established by the Nazi regime. Dachau is a lesson in the evolution of darkness, how unchecked intolerance and hatred spiral out of control.

“From its sinister inception in 1933, Dachau held political prisoners — opponents of the Third Reich.  It became the prototype for Nazi concentration camps and the training ground for Schutzstaffel (SS) camp guards.  As the seed of Nazi evil grew, the camp swelled with thousands of others across Europe targeted by the Nazis, including Jews, other religious sects, Sinti, Roma, LGBT persons, the disabled, and those deemed asocial. 

“Our hearts are heavy in remembrance of the more than 40,000 individuals from every walk of life who died, and the more than 200,000 who suffered at Dachau.  As we reflect on the anniversary of Dachau’s liberation, we draw inspiration from, and recall with gratitude, the sacrifices of so many Americans – in particular our brave soldiers — to win victory over oppression.  Drawing from the words of Captain Timothy Brennan, who wrote to his wife and child after liberating the camp — You cannot imagine that such things exist in a civilized world’ — we fervently vow that such atrocities will never happen again.  History will not repeat itself.”

Incoming ‘Daily Show’ host rejects backlash over graphic tweets about Jewish people, women

Trevor Noah, the newly announced host of “The Daily Show,” rejected the backlash over his graphic tweets targeting Jews and women as an unfair reflection of him and his comedy.

“To reduce my views to a handful of jokes that didn’t land is not a true reflection of my character, nor my evolution as a comedian,” Noah posted on March 31 on his Twitter account, the same one that included past tweets others deemed offensive.

Comedy Central also came to his defense, calling Noah a “provocative” comedian who “spares no one, himself included.”

“To judge him or his comedy based on a handful of jokes is unfair,” the network said in a statement, adding that he has “a bright future at Comedy Central.”

Noah was announced as Jon Stewart’s successor on March 30.

The next day, he was a trending topic on Twitter as he drew fire for jokes described as tasteless, hateful — and unfunny.

Roseanne Barr was among those calling out the 31-year-old South African comic, who has an international following and 2 million Twitter followers.

“U should cease sexist & anti semitic `humor’ about jewish women & Israel,” she tweeted late March 30.

Noah’s controversial tweets were posted between 2009 and 2014.

In 2009 he wrote: “Almost bumped a Jewish kid crossing the road. He didn’t look b4 crossing but I still would hav felt so bad in my german car!”

A 2012 post derides “jewish chicks.” Another graphic tweet from 2011 jokes about “a hot white woman.”

In a post from 2011, he writes: “Oh yeah the weekend. People are gonna get drunk & think that I’m sexy!” He attributes the joke to “fat chicks everywhere.”

He also slammed the United States’ midsection in a 2013 tweet, writing that “When flying over the middle of America the turbulence is so bad. It’s like all the ignorance is rising through the air.”

The tweets showed a different side to Noah than the picture painted by Comedy Central and the comedian himself just a day earlier: In a phone interview on March 30 from Dubai, where Noah was traveling on a comedy tour, he likened himself to the New York-born Stewart, saying, “One thing we both share: We are both progressives.” He added, “traveling the world I’ve learned that progressives, regardless of their locations, think in a global space.”

Noah, the son of a black South African mother and white European father who speaks six languages, was being pitched by Comedy Central as reflecting a new age of global multiculturalism, “a citizen of the world,” in the words of Michele Ganeless, the network’s president.

He was named a little more than a month after Stewart unexpectedly announced he was leaving “The Daily Show” following 16 years as the show’s principal voice. Although no dates have been disclosed, Stewart is expected to depart by the end of the year, with Noah taking over soon afterward.

On March 30, Ganeless spoke of the advantage of introducing Noah to a mainstream U.S. audience through “The Daily Show,” with viewers coming to the show he hosts with no preconceptions. “They will get to discover him, and form their opinions of him, as they watch him host.”

But by March 31, some opinions were already forming.

Weighing in on Noah’s selection, a Slate column compared his vetting to that of Sarah Palin as a running mate for presidential candidate John McCain.

The choice of a new host for “The Daily Show” is a critical decision not only for the satirical-news program, but for the network, whose identity has largely been forged by the “Daily Show” franchise, which for years was followed by the likewise signature “The Colbert Report.”

By the end of this year, Comedy Central will have completely remade this programming block. In January, African-American comic Larry Wilmore replaced the “The Colbert Report” hosting “The Nightly Show.”

Madison Symphony highlights classic film music exiles

In the 1930s, Europe’s loss of artists and intellectuals fleeing the rise of Nazi persecution and anti-intellectualism proved to be America’s gain. Some of the greatest contributions to American culture came in the form of Hollywood film scores, with European exiles raising the symphonic standard of movie music for generations of film fans to come.

The Madison Symphony Orchestra will showcase the works of three better-known artists in its Composers in Exile: Creating the Hollywood Sound concert series. Classical and cinematic compositions by Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Miklós Rózsa and Franz Waxman fill the playlist March 6-8 at Madison’s Overture Center.

Maestro John DeMain will conduct the three performances, with violinist Daniel Hope performing Korngold’s Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D Major. The March concerts will be Hope’s first time performing with MSO, and he says he’s delighted by the program that has been chosen, both for its musicality and as a way to educate audiences unfamiliar with the composers and their contributions.

“I particularly love vintage Hollywood film music, especially the scores by the European exiles such as Korngold, Waxman and Rózsa,” Hope said in an email interview from his home in the U.K. “These three composers also wrote a number of serious works, but only really Korngold is acknowledged today in this field.”

Rózsa’s work may be most familiar to moviegoers. MSO will be performing the Hungarian composer’s “Love Theme” and “Parade of the Charioteers” from the 1959 biblical epic Ben-Hur and the “Love Theme” from the 1945 Alfred Hitchcock classic Spellbound. The performance also will feature Rózsa’s 1933 Theme, Variations, and Finale, a non-cinematic work that helped secure his international reputation, according to program notes by J. Michael Allsen, professor of music at UW-Whitewater.

Rózsa was already working in the British film industry with fellow Hungarian ex-pat and director Alexander Korda when the war began. Film funding immediately dried up and Korda, in 1939, relocated his production company to Hollywood, taking Rózsa with him.

“I think slowly people are beginning to realize how talented these composers were,” Hope says. “Rózsa’s Violin Concerto is also an amazing piece, as is Waxman’s oratorio ‘The Song of Terezin.’”

In 1934, Waxman, who was Jewish, was severely beaten by Nazi thugs in Berlin. The incident motivated him to flee the country, first to Paris and then to Los Angeles, where he composed some 150 film scores, Allsen writes. “The Song of Terezin,” composed in 1965 and Waxman’s final concert work, was a large-scale musical setting for poetry from I Never Saw Another Butterfly, a collection of work written by children imprisoned in Theresienstadt, a Nazi concentration camp near Prague.

Waxman will be represented on the program by “Ride of the Cossacks” from the 1962 Yul Brynner film Taras Bulba, based on Nikolai Gogol’s 19th century Russian novel. The concert also will feature Waxman’s non-cinematic 1955 Sinfonietta for String Orchestra and Timpani.

Waxman wrote his three-movement sinfonietta while traveling by cruise ship from New York to Europe, Allsen writes. The piece, commissioned by Rolf Lieberman, director of Zurich Radio, paints a suitably dramatic portrait through a variety of standard compositional techniques and familiar motifs that thread throughout the work. 

Korngold’s contributions to MSO’s concert include his popular suite from the 1935 Errol Flynn classic Captain Blood and the Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D Major. Hope will perform the 1947 concerto, which he’s considered a masterpiece since the first time he heard a recording of violinist Jascha Heifitz performing the work.

“The piece was written, in a sense, as a response to the end of the Second World War. Up to that point, Korngold seems to have promised himself only to compose film music until Hitler was defeated,” Hope says. “He did this in order to make a living and to support his friends and family by getting them out of Europe. The piece, therefore, marks his return to symphonic music.”

Korngold, the Jewish Bohemian son of an influential music critic, was considered a prodigy as a young musician, hailed by composer Gustav Mahler for his talent. As conditions worsened in Europe, Korngold in 1934 accepted a film assignment in Hollywood and spent the rest of his days there, Allsen writes. The Violin Concerto is dedicated to Mahler’s widow, Alma Mahler-Werfel, who had been Korngold’s childhood mentor.

Korngold was essentially an operatic composer who described his film music as ”an opera without singing,” Hope says. Korngold’s music did more than passively accompany the image on the screen — it actively engaged with the dialogue, emotion and presentation of the film, the violinist added.

“I believe both Korngold and Max Steiner totally changed American film music, by adding a fin-de-siècle European symphonic grandeur,” Hope says. “Both composers became known for introducing leitmotifs, recurring themes that followed characters throughout a film.”

Hope is himself a fan of classic film music. His list of favorite film composers extends beyond this program to fellow exiles such as Werner Richard Heymann and Friedrich Holland and contemporary American composers Alfred Newman and Herbert Stothart, the latter a Milwaukee native who wrote the score for The Wizard of Oz

He believes that film music has carved more than just a successful niche for itself. The juxtaposition of composers’ cinematic and classical influences has had a significant influence on U.S. popular culture that is felt even today.

“Some people quip that Korngold’s music ‘sounds like Hollywood,’” Hope says. “I think it was the other way around.”


Madison Symphony Orchestra’s performance of Composers in Exile: Creating the Hollywood Sound runs March 6-8 at Overture Hall in Overture Center for the Arts, 221 State St., Madison. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Friday, 8 p.m. Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. For tickets and more information, dial 608-258-4141 or visit