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BBC apologizes for ‘anti-Semitic’ cartoon in music program

Hook-nosed caricature of violinist Leopold Auer, printed in pamphlet for Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, sparked outrage

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

A performance on stage during the last night of the Proms at The Royal Albert Hall in west London, September 12, 2015. (AFP/JUSTIN TALLIS)
A performance on stage during the last night of the Proms at The Royal Albert Hall in west London, September 12, 2015. (AFP/JUSTIN TALLIS)

The British Broadcasting Cooperation has apologized for publishing a caricature of violinist Leopold Auer that many people saw as anti-Semitic and offensive.

Printed in a program for a recent performance of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, the drawing showed a profile view of Auer with a prominent hooked nose.

A BBC spokesperson told the Jewish Chronicle that there was never any intention to cause offense and that the cartoon would not be used again, the weekly newspaper reported on Friday.

“We use a range of caricatures and illustrations in our concert programs and wanted one of Leopold Auer,” the BBC said. “We’re sorry to anyone who was offended by the image choice — this was never our intention.”

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Local violin teacher Nigel Goldberg had no doubts about the poor choice of artwork and how it was presented in the booklet.

“It is an anti-Semitic cartoon and it is completely out of context,” he said. “There is no explanation of the image at all. Anyone I’ve shown it to, Jewish or not, has been stunned.”

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The concert was part of the annual BBC Proms, an eight-week-long festival of concerts that is rounded up with the traditional Last Night of the Proms at London’s Royal Albert Hall.

The Hungarian-born Auer (1845-1930) was a violinist, conductor and composer. During his time as first violinist to the orchestra of the St. Petersburg Imperial Theaters, noted composers of the day — including Tchaikovsky — wrote violin pieces specially for his skills with the instrument.

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