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Hugo Distler
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    (June 24, 1908-November 1, 1942)
    Born in Nuremberg, Germany
    Organist, choral director and neo-baroque composer
    Known for his religious choral music
    Compositions include 'Der Jahrkreis' (1931), 'Dance of Death' (1934) and 'The Christmas Story' (1935)
    He was denied entrance to the Nuremberg music conservatory three times. (Although the rejection probably had more to do with his birth out of wedlock than any lack of musical talent.)
    He joined the Nazi party to keep his job (1933).
    He was given five temporary exemptions from being drafted into the German army. When he was denied a sixth one, he committed suicide by putting his head in the oven.
    He was raised by his grandparents after his mother married an American and left for the USA.
    His music was denounced by the Nazis as 'degenerate.'
    He probably ticked off the Nazis further with his 'The Christmas Story,' since it repeatedly used the line 'To Bethlehem in the Jewish countries,' reminding the audience that Jesus was a Jew.
    One biographer explained his suicide with 'it appears that he saw the futility of attempting to serve both God and Nazis, and came to terms with his own conscience unequivocally.'
    Carl Orff said of his music, 'It lives on, whereas other music, in its own time so praised, has long since paled.'

Credit: C. Fishel

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