Books and Publications


The Nazi Confiscation of Wanda Landowska’s Musical Collection and Its Aftermath


Carla Shapreau


January 2020


When the German Army invaded France in May 1940, Wanda Landowska was at the height of her career as a renowned harpsichord and piano soloist. She was also an accomplished scholar, teacher, and composer and had amassed an extensive music library, including manuscripts, rare printed music, books, and an impressive antique musical instrument collection.  As a Polish Jew, Landowska was compelled to flee her home and music school in Saint-Leu-la-Forêt, near Paris. In the wake of her flight, Landowska's significant musical collection was confiscated by the Nazi Sonderstab Musik in September 1940 and transported to Germany.  A portion of her collection was evacuated to a monastery in the Bavarian countryside where on May 30, 1945 the U.S. Army discovered it in "a castle full of pianos, accordions, violins."  This essay documents this history, the portion of Landowska's musical claims that were published in the French Répertoire des biens spoliés en France durant la guerre 1939-1945, and what the U.S. Army discovered and repatriated to France for restitution to Landowska.  However, much of Landowska's looted musical collection remains missing today.


Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry, Vol. 32, The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization in association with Liverpool University Press, 2020,


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