Saturday, December 5, 2009

Hurok restores Lifar's reputation

I happen to know certain facts about Lifar's behavior during the Occupation of France, facts I did not know at the time of the publication of my earlier book, Impresario. Certain statements I made in that book concerning Serge Lifar were made on the basis of such information as I had at the time, which I believed was reliable. I have subsequently learned that it was not correct, and I have also subsequently had additional, quite different, and reliably documented information which makes me wish to acknowledge that an error of judgment was expressed on the basis of inconclusive evidence. Lifar may not have been a hero; very possibly, and quite probably, he may have been indiscreet; but it is now obvious to any fair-minded person that there has been a good deal of malicious gossip spread about him.

Lifar was restored to his post at the head of the Paris Opera Ballet by M. Georges Hirsch, Administrator, Director of the French National Lyric Theatres, himself a war-hero with a distinguished record. The dancers of the Paris Opera Ballet threatened to strike unless Lifar was so restored; the stage-hands, with definite indications of communist inspiration, to strike if he was. Hirsch had the courage of his convictions. I have found that Lifar did not take the Paris Opera Ballet to Berlin during the Occupation, as has been alleged in this country, although the Germans wanted it badly; and I happen to know numerous other French companies did go. I also have learned that it was Serge Lifar who prevented the Paris Opera Ballet from going. I happen to know that Lifar did fly in a German plane to Kieff, his birth-place; as I happen to know that he did not show Hitler through the Paris Opera itself, as one widely-spread rumor has had it. As a matter of fact, stories to the effect that he did both these things have been widely circulated. I happen to have learned that Lifar made a tremendous effort to save that splendid gentleman, Rene Blum, but was unable to prevail against Blum's patriotic but unfortunately stupid determination to remain in Paris. I also happen to know that Lifar was personally active in saving many Jews and also other liberals from deportation. Moreover, I know that, as has always been characteristic of Lifar, because he was one who had, he helped from his own pocket those who had not.

S. Hurok Presents: A Memoir of the Dance World by S. Hurok. 1953. Page 215-6.

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