The forced migration of artists and scholars from Nazi Germany is a compelling and often wrenching story. The story is twofold, of impoverishment for the countries the musicians left behind and enrichment for the United States. The latter is the focus of this eminent collection, which approaches the subject from diverse perspectives, including documentary-style newspaper accounts and an exploration of Walt Whitman's poetry in the work of Paul Hindemith and Kurt Weill.
The flood of musical migration from Germany and Austria from 1933 to 1944 had a lasting impact. Hundreds of musicians and musicologists came to the United States and remained here, and the shaping power of their talents is incalculable. Several essays provide firsthand insights into aspects of American cultural history to which these émigrés made essential contributions as conductors, professors, and composers; other essays tell of the traumatic experience of being exiled and the difficulties of finding one's way in a foreign country. While the migration infused the U.S. with a distinctly European musical awareness, at the same time the status and authority of its participants tended to intervene in the development of a genuinely American cultural voice. The story of the unprecedented migration that resulted from Nazism has many dimensions, and Driven Into Paradise illuminates them in deeply human terms.