“I return to Vienna when I compose”

(Robert Fürstenthal)

May 2017 to June 2020, now permanent exhibition – Exilarte Center entrance

© Iby-Jolande Varga

An entire generation of younger musicians was deprived by this cultural catastrophe of ever being admitted to the mdw.

The Exilarte Center of the mdw – University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna, is situated in exactly the same building where talented musicians studied and pioneering lecturers taught. Between 1933 and 1938, many of the mdw’s most gifted individuals were forced to flee the Nazi terror. Some managed to continue their careers, while others found they had lost the very foundations of their work. An entire generation of younger musicians was deprived by this cultural catastrophe of ever being admitted to the mdw. The first exhibition opening the newly founded exil.arte Center at the mdw focuses on the lost musical legacy and the fates of these many and diverse lives.

Georg Tintner

The first Jew to join the Vienna’s Boys’ Choir; studied at the mdw and later in exile worked as a farmer in New Zealand before becoming one of Bruckner’s greatest interpreters, working solely with provincial orchestras which until his recordings were released were largely unknown.

Herbert Zipper

A student at the mdw, subsequently deported by the Nazis yet managed to escape from both Dachau and Buchenwald. In exile he later founded both the Manila Symphony Orchestra and the Brooklyn Symphony Orchestra. He remained an active pedagogue in the Far East while at the same time working as Projects’ Director at UCLA.

Alma Rosé

Studied at the mdw, performed with her father, leader of one of the most renowned quartets and concert masters of the Vienna Philharmonic. Exiled to England following the dismissal of her father, she returned to the continent as their only means of support before her arrest and subsequent death at Auschwitz, where nevertheless, she survived long enough to conduct and manage the all-women orchestra.

Walter Arlen

Excluded from his high school as a Jew and unable even to apply for a place at the mdw he fled to the United States, where he became a music critic for the Los Angeles Times; founded and directed the music department at Loyola Marymount University while composing in private. His compositions have only recently come to light with the release of 6 CDs. He continues to live and work in Los Angeles as a youthful 97 year old.

Robert Fürstenthal

Also excluded from high school and unable to audition for the mdw; exile to the United States meant leaving Nazi Vienna and his first love who fled to Switzerland. Following a successful career as an accountant, he returned to composition only after being reunited with his lost girlfriend some forty years later.

Erich Wolfgang Korngold

A child prodigy, and a world renowned composer, he taught at the mdw for a short time. In American exile, he reluctantly saw his only means of survival as that of Hollywood composer, where his work resulted in such a fundamental paradigm shift that following his departure from the studios, his main output would be dismissed as “movie music”. His natural musical idiom perfectly matched the needs of American high-emotion cinema. This meant that movie music actually sounded like him, not the other way around.

Only some of the over 50 different stories are told at the exhibition “I return to Vienna when I compose”

June 2018 to June 2020

The exil.arte Center extends its Exhibition
“I return to Vienna when I compose”

with further estates: Theo Buchwald, Robert Freistadtl, Wilhelm Grosz, André Singer, Jan Urban, Hans Winterberg

and with two special exhibitions

„The word expired when that world awoke“
(Karl Kraus, 1933)
Exhibition on the commemorative years 1918, 1933, 1938


Political Theater in Exile: Erwin Piscator and Maria Ley-Piscator