Jewry in Music

David Conway, Michael Portillo

26/02/2012 4:30 pm

Michael Portillo discussed David Conway’s new book Jewry in Music with the author, accompanied by live musical illustrations by Mark Viner (piano) and Claudia Conway (soprano).

At the start of the 19th century virtually no Jews were active in the field of concert music and the consensus was that they were a hopelessly uncultured and uneducable people. But by the end of the century, the conventional wisdom was that the Jews were ‘a musical people’, and Jews occupied leading positions as soloists, composers, conductors, and impresarios.

What happened in between to enable this? And why exactly did Wagner launch in mid-century his vicious attack on Jewry in Music?

Michael Portillo

Michael Portillo had a prestigious career in the Conservative Party as an MP and Cabinet Minister. Since leaving politics, he has devoted himself to writing and broadcasting; a stalwart participant in This Week, he also presents Dinner with Portillo on BBC 4.

David Conway

David Conway is Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies, University College, London and a specialist on the topic of Jews and 19th century music. He is also employed by the EU Commission as an expert in development aid.