Aug 2002 Journal

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Philosophers. Harvard University Press have just published Gershom Scholem, A Life in Letters 1914-1982. Scholem rebelled against his assimilated family background, left Berlin in the 1920s, and became Professor of Kabbalah Studies at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem. This volume contains his correspondence with Walter Benjamin and Hannah Arendt, whose book Eichmann in Jerusalem he severely criticised. His own literary monument was Dr Weltfremd, a character in the Hebrew novel Shira by the Nobel Prize winner SY Agnon.
(By coincidence, in June Radio Four broadcast the play Reni and the Brownshirts based on the reminiscences of his niece Renée Goddard, née Scholem.)

Composers (a) Alexander Zeinlinsky was an Austrian composer-conductor connected with Mahler and Schönberg, who died as a refugee in wartime New York. His opera König Kandaules is being staged at the current Salzburg Festival with décor by Alfred Hrdlicka (who, incidentally, sculpted the monument of the pavement-scrubbing Jew outside Vienna's Albertina Gallery).
(b) Georg Kreisler, 80 this year and likewise an Austrian Jewish refugee, made his name with song hits such as Tanten tanzen Tango. He recently showed his versatility by composing the opera Der Aufstand der Schmetterlinge, which had an enthusiastic reception in Vienna.

Hoofers. According to the Radio Times, Rita Hayworth had a Sephardi (Spanish-Jewish) father and was a cousin of Ginger Rogers. The latter was famously partnered by the - possibly Jewish - Friedrich Austerlitz, alias Fred Astaire.

Movie mogul Lewis Wasserman, who died aged 89, was president of the Music Corporation of America, which produced films, television series and records. Steven Spielberg, who had made Jaws and Jurassic Park under Wasserman's aegis, dubbed him a "benevolent godfather".

Playwright Tom Stoppard, whose work, interestingly, makes no allusions to his Jewish refugee ancestry, has completed a trilogy about nineteenth-century Russian political exiles Alexander Herzen, Mikhail Bakunin and Ivan Turgenev bearing the overall title The Coast of Utopia.
Richard Grunberger

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