Edvard Sylou-Creutz

Edvard Sylou-Creutz (7 May 1881 – 11 May 1945) was a Norwegian classical pianist, composer and radio personality, who was especially active in Nazi-controlled radio in Germany and occupied Norway between March 1940 and the autumn of 1942.

He studied with Agathe Backer-Grøndahl and also several years abroad. He made his concert debut in 1910, and was a music critic for the newspaper Morgenbladet from 1919.[1] Before World War II he worked as a pianist and composer.[2] He had been involved in the pioneer years of Norwegian radio in the 1920s.[3] He accompanied the vocals of Dagny Schelderup in one of the earliest broadcasts of Kristiania Broadcasting on 12 April 1923.[4] He was also a member of the Fascist party Nasjonal Samling. In March 1940 he applied for a job in radio broadcasts from Germany to Norway, and he was hired as program presenter and news reader. These broadcasts were propagandistic, and started on 1 April 1940, having been preceded by German broadcasts to Sweden from 20 November 1939 and to Denmark from January 1940.[2] Sylou-Creutz worked anonymously in this job.[5]

Syloud-Creutz continued his broadcasts after the German invasion of Norway on 9 April 1940.[6] In the second half of April, the broadcasts switched from conveying German views on Norway (and often omitting Norway altogether, in favor of other war news) to being responses to English propaganda news.[7] This shift was especially caused by the speech made by J. H. Marshall-Cornwall on 13 April, which called for Norwegian sabotage against the Germans. Sylou-Creutz also lamented the absence of German-friendly Victor Mogens as a foreign news commentator in Norwegian radio.[8] Mogens had been pressured to resign in 1936.[9]

By late April and early May 1940, preparations were made to close the German-based broadcasts to Norway, and instead make use of the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation. Sylou-Creutz moved to Norway in early June after his last broadcast on German soil, and continued his career in Norway.[10] Via contacts in the Reichskommissariat Norwegen (which was the highest authority over the Broadcasting Corporation), Sylou-Creutz also managed to see his music get a lot of airtime.[11]

On 28 September 1940, the Nazis took more control over the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation; the pre-war director Olav Midttun was fired, and Edvard Sylou-Creutz and Eyvind Mehle were installed as program directors.[12] Sylou-Creutz was also responsible for music.[11] While being program directors, Mehle and Sylou-Creutz were subordinates of commissary president Wilhelm Frimann Koren Christie.[13] There was a considerable rivalry and antagonism between Christie and Mehle, Christie and administrative director Carl Bødtker, and to a lesser degree between Mehle and Sylou-Creutz.[14] Among others, Mehle and Sylou-Creutz bickered over the right to the largest office.[15] More importantly however, Mehle and Sylou-Creutz were on the same side in that they were German-friendly.[14] In 1940 Sylou-Creutz made announcements stating that Jewish music should be banned from Norwegian airwaves and all performers should also be members of Nasjonal Samling.[16]

Sylou-Creutz, having failed in his attempt at making performing in the radio a legal obligation for Norwegian artists, on 27 August 1942 banned six artists belonging to the concert company Brødrene Hals' Konsertbyrå from renting the Aulaen Hall of the University of Oslo. The artists banned were Robert Riefling, Jan Wølner, Frithjof Backer-Grøndahl, Amalie Christie, Rolf Størseth and Kari Glaser. The ban attracted great controversy, with the national music consultant Geirr Tveitt resigning in a 18-page protest letter to minister Gulbrand Lunde. Tveitt called Sylou-Creutz' actions "... madness... for it can lead to nothing but the destruction of all musical life."[quote 1] The ban was reversed on 26 September 1942.[17][18] Amidst towering intrigue, Sylou-Creutz was let go from the Broadcasting Corporation on 28 October 1942.[19][20]

In connection with the 100th anniversary of the birth of the famous Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg on 15 June 1943 Sylou-Creutz was to hold the official Grieg concert in Stavanger. The city's orchestra had been offered NOK 10-15,000 in public funds to perform with him, but declined. Sylou-Creutz ended up playing alone for an audience of 48 people, 40 of whom had been given free tickets. The paying members of the audience were asked to move from the gallery to the front benches. In comparison non-Nazi artist Ivar Johnsen performed a single piece of Grieg's music in the park Fornøyelsesparken in Stavanger in storming rain with an audience of between 1,000 and 2,000 people the same day.[21]

Further reading

References and notes

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