The official programme for the BBC’s flagship Proms summer music festival contained an antisemitic caricature.
Leopold Auer was a famous Hungarian Jewish violinist to who numerous pieces of music were dedicated, including a piece by Tchaikovsky. The BBC Proms programme included Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto and to illustrate it, the BBC used a caricature of Auer — Tchaikovsky dedicated his Violin Concerto to Auer but changed it to Brodsky after Auer suggested revisions. The caricature featured Auer as a ghoulish figure with an enormous hooked nose.
The caricature used may well have been licensed from the Lebrecht Library, which lists the drawing as an “antisemitic caricature”. If the BBC did indeed purchase the rights to use the image from the Lebrecht collection, it is hard to imagine that they could have missed the description of the caricature.
In response to Twitter users who demanded answers, the BBC said: “We use a range of caricatures and illustrations in our concert programmes and wanted one of Leopold Auer. We’re sorry to anyone who was offended by the image choice — this was never our intention.”
This is a mealy-mouthed half apology which does not acknowledge that the caricature is antisemitic in nature and should never have been used. The BBC has not explained how this happened or how they will discipline those involved.
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