Cape Cod Writers Center

The Karl Muck Scandal: Classical Music and Xenophobia in World War 1 America

The Karl Muck Scandal: Classical Music and Xenophobia in World War 1 America


By: Melissa D. Burrage

Melissa D. Burrage’s book tells the story 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 the regional rivalry between Boston and New York, and highlights broader national topics such as: total war; state power; vigilante justice; internment and deportation; irresponsible journalism; sexual surveillance; changing gender roles; 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.


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