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13 years ago|7K views

FARRAKHAN: "Das Judenthum in der Musik"

XYBORG SAMURAI
In May of 1993, Minister Louis Farrakhan staged a recital of the Violin Concerto, Op.64, by the Jewish composer Felix Mendelssohn in what was one of the most politically-resonant artistic displays in classical music history. In a performance manifesting the most dramatic confluence of art and politics since Richard Wagner penned his notorious tract, ‘Das Judenthum in der Music’ (‘Judaism in Music’) ~ and at once refuting that screed’s main premise and theme ~ Farrakhan instantly established himself as the single most transformative classical musician in American artistic history. Squarely placing himself at the epicentre of the most controversial event in the classical music world since the tumult sparked by the ‘Tristan und Isolde’ overture at the Israel Festival in Jerusalem, Farrakhan’s rendition of the Mendelssohn violin concerto left the audience aghast. For the eighteen months leading up to his performance, Farrakhan was coached by Elaine Skorodin Fohrman, a Jewish violin virtuoso and member of Chicago’s Roosevelt University where she taught classical violin. Farrakhan’s choice of the Mendelssohn piece was attributed by some observers to the composer’s identity as a Jew ~ a gesture widely viewed as an “olive branch” to the Nation of Islam leader’s Jewish detractors. Farrakhan’s first rendition of the violin concerto occurred as part of a three-day symposium, ‘Gateways: Classical Music and the Black Musician’ , at the Reynold’s Auditorium in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, on 18 April 1993.

Shortly thereafter, Farrakhan reprised his euphonious peace gesture before a Chicago audience of three thousand on May 17 on his eighteenth-century Guadagnini violin…