‘The Weintraubs case becomes a prism through which Dreyfus examines the whole socio-historical context in which the destruction of the band occurred … as the nation entered the intensely anxious beginnings of World War II.’ Colin Nettlebeck, Australian Book Review
‘Fascinating … A remarkable story.’ Peter Pinne, Stage Whispers
‘… the story is engrossing and the human interest quotient high…’ Phil Shannon, Australian Left Book Review
The Weintraubs Syncopators, international musical celebrities of the 1930s, embarked on a four-year journey across Europe, Russia and the Far East in exile from the antisemitic ideologies of the German Third Reich. This band of mainly Jewish musicians arrived in Sydney, Australia, in 1937. The decision of some of them to stay brought them into conflict with the aggressively protectionist Musicians’ Union of Australia. They gained employment at a high-end Sydney nightclub but when war came, were forced to come to terms with a change in their status – from celebrities to enemy aliens. Denounced for alleged espionage activities in Russia, three were interned and the band broke up.
In this major recounting of the experience of the Weintraubs Syncopators, Kay Dreyfus pieces together the complex personal, social and political forces at work in this story of migration at a time of insecurity, fear and dramatic conflict.
Kay Dreyfus is an Adjunct Research Fellow in the School of History (SOPHIS), Monash University. Her background is in musicology and history and she holds doctorates in both areas. As curator of the Grainger Museum (Melbourne), she edited The Farthest North of Humanness, Letters of Percy Grainger 1901–1914 (1985). She is particularly interested in everyday musical experience in Australia, and her publications include Sweethearts of Rhythm: The Story of Australia’s All-Girl Bands and Orchestras to the End of the Second World War (1999) and a biography of the Australian violinist Alma Moodie (Die Geige War ihr Leben: Drei Frauen im Portrait, 2000).