An overview of Australian-German Artistic Relations over the past two hundred years. The guns were barely silent on the Western Front when on 23 November 1918 Belgian-born Henri Verbrugghen took to the stage of the recently established NSW Conservatorium and softly tapped his baton, bringing the audience to silence. Then into this silence Verbrugghen called down the immortal opening chords of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, the ‘Choral’, with its celebrated fourth movement ‘Ode to Joy’, based on Schiller’s words. A difficult piece to stage because of the considerable orchestral forces required, the performance was nevertheless a triumph, and all the more so for the occasion it marked, the Allied victory over Germany. Due to the long lead time and the necessity for extensive rehearsal, its being played at the signing of peace was a coincidence, but nevertheless a very serendipitous one.
REX BUTLER & A.D.S. DONALDSON | War and Peace: 200 Years of Australian-German Artistic Relations