The Karl Muck Scandal: Classical Music and Xenophobia in World War I America [Burrage]
One of the cherished narratives of American history is that of the Statue of Liberty welcoming immigrants to its shores. Accounts of the exclusion and exploitation of Chinese immigrants in the late nineteenth century and Japanese internment during World War II tell a darker story of American immigration. Less well-known, however, is the treatment of German-Americans and German nationals in the United States during World War I. Initially accepted and even welcomed into American society, at the outbreak of war, this group would face rampant intolerance and anti-German hysteria.
Melissa D. Burrage's book illustrates this dramatic shift in attitude in her engrossing narrative of Dr. Karl Muck, the celebrated German conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, who was targeted and ultimately disgraced by a New York Philharmonic board member and by capitalists from that city who used his private sexual life as a basis for having him arrested, interned, and deported from the United States. While the campaign against Muck made national headlines, and is the main focus of this book, Burrage also illuminates broader national topics such as: Total War; State power; vigilante justice; internment and deportation; irresponsible journalism; sexual surveillance; attitudes towards immigration; anti-Semitism; and the development of America's musical institutions. The mistreatment of Karl Muck in the United States provides a narrative thread that connects these various wartime and postwar themes.