Sturgeon unveils tribute to Edinburgh Festival pioneers


Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has unveiled a plaque recognising the cultural contribution of two refugees from Nazism who were instrumental in launching the Edinburgh International Festival 70 years ago.

As well as remembering Sir Rudolf Bing and Bruno Walter, the plaque celebrates the bicentenary of Edinburgh Jewry.

The ceremony was at Usher Hall, the city’s main concert venue, during a reception for the Edinburgh community. London visitors from the Association of Jewish Refugees were among the guests.

As the festival’s first director, Vienna-born Sir Rudolf wanted to raise spirits and aspirations in post-war Britain. 

Among the performers he attracted was Walter, a Berlin-born conductor who had formed a close partnership with the Vienna Philharmonic. His Edinburgh reunion with his old orchestra was a huge success.

The wording for the plaque, which was read out by Ms Sturgeon, acknowledged the duo “for creating a platform for the flowering of the human spirit” and recognised “the contributions by the Jewish community to the city of Edinburgh over 200 years”.

Adrian Harris, chair of Edinburgh Jewish Dialogue, gave a presentation on the progress of the project for a cross-communal Scottish Jewish Cultural Centre.

Public meetings will be held in the autumn to discuss recommendations for the centre.

Earlier in the day, AJR trustee Frank Harding unveiled the association’s own plaque to Sir Rudolf at the administrative headquarters of the Edinburgh Festival at the top of the Royal Mile. It was part of its programme of honouring German-speaking Jewish refugees who made a significant contribution to Britain.

The AJR’s party included the Austrian Ambassador, Dr Martin Eichtinger, and Sir Eric Pickles, envoy for post-Holocaust issues.

Fergus Linehan, the current festival director, said Sir Rudolf had “placed placed Edinburgh on the map internationally”.

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive