Disavow some Russian artists. Don’t cancel Russian art – The Economist

(This column first appeared in The Economist on March 19, 2022)

“Art and politics should have nothing to do with each other.” So says Wilhelm Furtwängler in “Taking Sides”, a play by Ronald Harwood that imagines an interrogation of the German maestro in 1946. In real life Furtwängler never joined the Nazi party and saved Jewish musicians, but he stayed in the Reich and performed for Hitler’s birthday. “I believe in music,” the character says. His is a popular tune. “I am an artist,” protests Anna Netrebko (pictured), a superstar Russian soprano who has repudiated the war in Ukraine but not Vladimir Putin. “My purpose is to unite people across political divides.”

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