Sonntag, 24. Oktober 2021

An Introduction To "Entartete Musik"

"Degenerate music" (German: "Entartete Musik") was a label applied in the 1930s by the Nazi government in Germany to certain forms of music that it considered to be harmful or decadent. The Nazi government's concern for degenerate music was a part of its larger and more well-known campaign against degenerate art ("Entartete Kunst"). In both cases, the government attempted to isolate, discredit, discourage, or ban the works.

The Nazi government considered several types of music to be degenerate, for several different reasons. Any music that was opposed to the Nazi regime by virtue of its content or the political views of its composers and performers was considered degenerate. This included works by Jewish and Jewish-origin composers (such as Felix Mendelssohn, Arnold Schoenberg, Franz Schreker, Kurt Weill, Gustav Mahler, and Berthold Goldschmidt); works that featured Jewish or African characters (such as those by Ernst Krenek); or works by composers of Marxist persuasion, eg Hanns Eisler. It also applied to artists that had shown sympathy for opponents of the Nazi Regime (such as Anton Webern, who had been a moderate supporter of Adolf Hitler but had maintained a friendship with the Jewish composer Schoenberg during his exile from Germany). Modernist music, such as works by Paul Hindemith, Alban Berg, Schoenberg, and Webern, was also considered degenerate. Modernist music was judged to be inferior to previous classical music, and it therefore offended the Nazis' sense of progress and civilization in general — and in particular their loyalty to Germany's many great classical composers. In addition, one might speculate that Modernist music's abandonment of structure and form presented a threat, albeit immaterial, to the culture of order and control that fascist regimes such as the Nazi party both developed and relied on. Finally, Jazz music was considered degenerate because of its roots in and association with the African-American culture.

From the Nazi seizure of power onward, these composers found it increasingly difficult, and often impossible, to get work or have their music performed. Many went into exile (eg Schoenberg, Weill, Hindemith, Goldschmidt); or retreated into 'internal exile' (eg Karl Amadeus Hartmann, Boris Blacher); or ended up in the concentration camps (eg Viktor Ullmann, or Erwin Schulhoff).

Some works which were later enthusiastically adopted by the Nazi regime, such as the hugely popular Carmina Burana by Carl Orff (1937), were initially described as degenerate by local music critics.Like degenerate art, examples of degenerate music were displayed in public exhibits in Germany beginning in 1938.

From the mid-1990s the Decca Record Company released a series of recordings under the title "Entartete Musik: music suppressed by the third reich" covering lesser-known works by several of the above-named composers. This album is an introduction to the series "Entartete Musik".

1. Walter Braunfels • Die Vögel: Vorspiel - Prolog 08:10
2. Erich Wolfgang Korngold • Between Two Worlds: The World at War - The Next World 04:21
3. Viktor Ullmann • Der Kaiser von Atlantis: Wer da? Halt! Steh! 06:50
4. Erich Wolfgang Korngold • Das Wunder der Heliane: Ich ging zu ihm 07:15
5. Erwin Schulhoff • Flammen: Introduzione - Karnevalsnacht 08:37
6. Berthold Goldschmidt • Rondeau 'Rue du Rocher' (excerpt) 04:33
7. Franz Schreker • Die Gezeichneten: Maskenzug - Was fliehst du vor mir? 02:27
8. Hanns Eisler • Deutsche Sinfonie, op. 50: Präludium 07:00
9. Berthold Goldschmidt • Der gewaltige Hahnrei: Zwischenspiel - Du bist so blaß 10:30
10. Pavel Haas • String Quartet No.2 - III: Largo e misterioso 09:32
11. Ernst Krenek • Jonny spielt auf: Ob er kommt 06:57

This is progressive music from the 1930ies and a lesson in history. Entartete Musik translates into "degenerate music," a title that describes the Nazis' attitude towards a dozen or so Jewish composers' works that were banned because of the composers' racial and religious background or bias. At a closer look, these composers might have played an important part in the development of European music, given the chance. These works have been recorded in the 90ies by various artists and orchestras and are now available again. Try to imagine what music might be without WW II (and all the other stupid conflicts).

From the booklet:
"There is a mistaken assumption that Hitler smashed a musical avant-garde that was seamlessly resumed after his defeat. Because the Third Reich had exploited the emotional power of music, the post war avant-garde tried to achieve 'objectivity' and neutralisation of expression in order to prevent music ever being so misused again. Unwittingly, it continued the suppression of the same banned works and composers, who now found themselves rejected as reactionaries.
One of the most celebrated of these composers in recent years is Berthold Goldschmidt, whose opera "Der gewaltige Hahnrei", was premiered in 1932 to great acclaim, only to be banned a few months later. In exile, as with most other composers, his native musical language took on the slight accent of a host country—in his case England.
Another pre-war progressive was Ernst Krenek. His opera "Jonny spielt auf" more than any other, embodied the Nazi concept of 'Entartete Musik.' An offensive half-ape, half-Negro playing a saxophone and with the star of David on the lapel of his tuxedo, named Jonny, became the logo for music they didn't like. The opera was an enormous hit all over Europe and was the first to confront audiences with sights and sounds familiar through the modern world around them: cars, whistles, jazz bands, sirens, electric bells—with the final jubilant chorus suddenly interrupted by an air raid siren: a frightening premonition, making its place at the end of our sampler all too appropriate.
"Jonny spiel auf" was used to launch the 'Entartete Musik' series alongside another, contrasting, opera—Erich Wolfgang Korngold's "Das Wunder der Heliane". Both operas were premiered in 1927, though Korngold's father, Vienna's most important critic, tried to collaborate with the National Socialists to prevent "Jonny" detracting from "Heliane's" success. Korngold's opera took music to levels of expressiveness not even reached by Strauss or Puccini. The aria 'Ich ging zu ihm' is one of the more reflective moments in this work. During his exile in Hollywood, Korngold created a cinematic style which would shape the future of film music, as can be heard in the excerpt from his soundtrack "Between Two Worlds".
The irony of the Jonny vs. Heliane 'fight' is that the progressive, subversive Jonny was written by the monarchist, Roman Catholic Krenek, whereas the author of Heliane—a whirlpool of noble Germanic sentiment—was the Jewish Korngold. Both composers were Viennese of Czech extraction, roughly the same age, established in Berlin and exiled in Southern California where they died, probably never having met one another. Between these styles lies almost the entire world of new music banned by the brand mark 'entartet.'
Both Krenek and Goldschmidt were students of Franz Schreker, whose students are an index of pre-war Berlin progressives. His operas were large-scale and their plots deeply psychological, magical and erotic. "Die Gezeichneten" surges to ever longer lines and more arching, breathless melodies and the 'Procession of Masques' from Act II, included on this disc, gives an idea of the explosion of feeling that flows through the entire work.
Another conservative with his foundations in Germanic culture was Walter Braunfels, who would have been regarded as a model German composer if his parents had not been converted Jews. His musical language was rooted in nature, mysticism and beauty, and "Die Vögel" is full of glorious melody and comedy.
Hanns Eisler's partly serial work "Deutsche Sinfonie" was begun in fascist Germany and continued during his exile in America, before finally being finished in Communist East Germany after his deportation from America. The symphony was forgotten, but can now receive proper recognition as a monument to the tragic fall of a great culture to despotism: a work whose sense of loss and sadness is tempered with contained anger.
Viktor Ullmann's opera "Der Kaiser von Atlantis" is a cabaret opera about Death going on strike. It was composed in the camp of Terezin (Theresienstadt) and got as far as rehearsal before being suppressed and Ullman and his librettist Peter Kien being murdered. Indeed the text to the Emperor's final aria was written on the back of the transport lists of prisoners from Terezin to Auschwitz. The excerpt included on this disc, an encounter between a soldier and a young girl, is poignant in its simplicty and heartbreaking as lyrical lines are broken by the drummer—a reminder of the destructive power of war. Our recording was the first of the published restored score which many had believed irretrievably lost.
This was also the case with Erwin Schulboff's opera "Flammen". It is perhaps less an opera and more a massive dramatic tone poem with singers setting up each orchestral interlude. It sweeps from Mahler to jazz, creating its own distinctive language while employing elements of Post-romanticism. Schulhoff was another Czech composer who, like Ullman, Haas and Krása, died in a concentration camp.
Pavel Haas' music is mystic and oriental. The movement 'The Moon and I' from the Second String Quartet has a haunting beauty that is distinctively Czech and colourful. His murder in Auschwitz deprived the world of the logical continuation of the style of his teacher Janácek.
The objective of the 'Entartete Musik' series has not just been to excavate the ruins of a musical civilization like Pompeii after Vesuvius, but to try and add to a more complete picture of how music in Europe was developing. The avant-garde during this time included a fusion between popular and serious music, with atonality or twelve-tone music aiming to heighten our musical and emotional senses—not bypass them altogether."

VA - An Introduction To "Entartete Musik"
(192 kbps, front cover included)

2 Kommentare:

wilsonwilsonjr hat gesagt…


zero hat gesagt…

You are welcome!

Kommentar veröffentlichen