Recent biography of Anneliese Landau fills in a lot of blanks

Recent biography of Anneliese Landau fills in a lot of blanks

In 2012, music historian Lilly E. Hirsch published her book "A Jewish Orchestra in Nazi Germany" in which the young Anneliese Landau played a central role. In writing the book, Hirsch did not have access to Landau directly; she had died in Los Angeles in 1991. But Hirsch was in touch with, and became close to, Landau's surviving family members in England and Scotland. 

These included George Paechter, Spedding Micklem (the widower of Lisel Thomas), and their several children. When Hirsch gained access to Landau's unpublished memoirs (whether through the family or other means I don't know), she found herself drawn deeper into Anneliese's story.

That is when she began writing a full biography of Landau. It was published in 2018 under the title Anneliese Landau's Life in Music: Nazi Germany to Emigré California.

I've not yet read it in full. There's a copy at the SF Public Library that I plan to check out soon. But Hirsch has published several scholarly articles that make use of the material in the book that I have read and will excerpt in upcoming posts.

For now, as a way of introduction to Annaliese Landau's story, here is the book description as presented on Amazon.

Anneliese Landau's Life in Music: Nazi Germany to Émigré California
University of Rochester Press (Eastman Studies in Music Book 152)

This book introduces readers to a woman who truly persisted. Anneliese Landau pushed past bias to earn a PhD in musicology in 1930. She then lectured on early German radio, breaking new ground in a developing medium. After the Nazis forced the firing of all Jews in broadcasting in early 1933, Landau worked for a time in the Berlin Jewish Culture League (Jüdischer Kulturbund), a closed cultural organization created by and for Jews in negotiation with Hitler's regime. But, in 1939, she would emigrate alone, the fate of her family members tied separately to the Kindertransport and to the Terezín concentration camp.

Landau eventually settled in Los Angeles, assuming duties as music director of the Jewish Centers Association in 1944. In this role, she knew and worked with many significant historical figures, among them the composer Arnold Schoenberg, conductor Bruno Walter, and the renowned rabbi and philosopher Leo Baeck.

Anneliese Landau's Life in Music offers fresh perspective on the Nazi period in Germany as well as on music in southern California, impacted as it was by the many notable émigrés from German-speaking lands who settled in the area. But the book, the first to study Landau's life in full, is also a unique story of survival: an account of one woman's confrontation with other people's expectations of her, as a woman and a Jew.

Lily E. Hirsch is the author of A Jewish Orchestra in Nazi Germany: Musical Politics and the Berlin Jewish Culture League.