Author Topic: Composers in Germany 1933-1945  (Read 16316 times)

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Offline The new erato

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Re: Composers in Germany 1933-1945
« Reply #40 on: September 08, 2007, 01:00:32 AM »
Interesting thread, don't let it drift.

As for whether one can like the music (or books, paintings, or architecture, or design) of a person one wouldn't normally associate oneself with, make a separate thread if you have opinions. Though it seems to me one is in for a hard life if one chooses this path. Was Gesualdo a pig for murdering his wife? As I said; a theme for another thread!

Offline Lethevich

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Re: Composers in Germany 1933-1945
« Reply #41 on: September 08, 2007, 05:51:41 AM »
As for whether one can like the music (or books, paintings, or architecture, or design) of a person one wouldn't normally associate oneself with, make a separate thread if you have opinions. Though it seems to me one is in for a hard life if one chooses this path. Was Gesualdo a pig for murdering his wife? As I said; a theme for another thread!

Fair point - composers much longer ago also worked for some very odious people and regimes, but time seems to have made this less of a problem to listeners. I admit to not really caring about Gesualdo's private life, and it not being in the front of my mind when I listen to his music as it may be for Wagner or later composers. A strange thing...
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Offline sound67

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Re: Composers in Germany 1933-1945
« Reply #42 on: September 08, 2007, 07:31:12 AM »
Fair enough, but WWII is not as distant as Gesualdo's time, and in the case of Hans Pfitzner it is serious because he vilified the composers who had left (were to leave) Germany with his famous remark of jazz being vile, atonality being madness - which was used as the motto for an exhibition of "entartete Musik" (depraved/degenerated music), the music quivalent of "entartete Kunst". As such it is relevant to the subject at hand in that it gives you an idea of the political and aesthetic climate in which the composers who stayed at home were working.

And, btw, as a German I myself will have to live with that baggage of history all my life (just having been called a fascist on another board because I did not join in someone's enthusiasm for a particular recording).

Thomas
« Last Edit: September 08, 2007, 09:01:54 AM by sound67 »
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Offline The new erato

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Re: Composers in Germany 1933-1945
« Reply #43 on: September 08, 2007, 09:48:37 AM »
My point being that this has nothing to do with the quality of their music. If you decide that you don't want to listen to it because of the composers personality, politics or whatever, that is perfectly fine, but that is your personal, non-musically motivated, choice.

Offline sound67

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Re: Composers in Germany 1933-1945
« Reply #44 on: September 08, 2007, 09:59:57 AM »
Names like Kurt Hessenberg, Walter Trapp(who wrote seven symphonies), Karl Holler, Johann Nepomuk David(eight symphonies), Philipp Jarnach, Theodor Berger, Heinz Schubert, Paul Hoffer and many others barely get a mention nowadays.

There was one CD with orchestral works by Kurt Hessenberg recorded in Slovakia.



Unfortunately, the two works were rather dry, not helped by indifferent performances and sound. Hessenberg lived to an old age and taught music in Frankfurt.

There is also a (German) website devoted to his work, http://www.kurthessenberg.de/de/index.htm
Thomas
« Last Edit: September 08, 2007, 10:08:49 AM by sound67 »
"Vivaldi didn't compose 500 concertos. He composed the same concerto 500 times" - Igor Stravinsky

"Mozart is a menace to musical progress, a relic of rituals that were losing relevance in his own time and are meaningless to ours." - Norman Lebrecht

pjme

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Re: Composers in Germany 1933-1945
« Reply #45 on: September 09, 2007, 11:04:02 PM »
I'm afraid this CD is very difficult to find and - technically speaking propably not top notch - but what I've read about it -usually quite positive.


Theodor BERGER (1905-1992)
Orchestral Works
Symphonischer Triglyph (1957)
Concerto Manuale (1951)
La Parola (1954)
Frauenstimmen (1959)
Triglyph - NDR SO/Horst Stein
Manuale - Bavarian RSO/Rafael Kubelik
Parola - Bavarian RSO/Rudolf Alberth
Frauenstimmen - Bavarian RSO/Rafael Kubelik
ADD from stereo radio tapes: Triglyph from NDR; the other three from Bavarian Radio
 ANTES EDITION BM-CD 31.9047 [64.02]

FRom The Music Web :Rob Barnett:

Berger was a pupil of Franz Schmidt but his natural way of speaking has only a little to do with Schmidt's sustained singing lines. His time in Berlin from 1932 to 1939 put him in touch with Furtwängler who took him under his wing and promoted performances of Berger's music in Germany and abroad. From 1939 onwards his home was to be Vienna with long interludes in the USA.

The Triglyph is a metamorphosis on unidentified themes from Schubert's chamber music. It is a work of ferocious contrasts. The rushing galloping strings with brass and percussion barrages (Schuman and Mennin) is set alongside radiant lyrical andante chapters (Mahlerian adagio meeting Schubert and Bruckner). Horst Stein has the measure of the oddly unassimilated contrasts.

The Concerto Manuale patters conspiratorially with much florid activity from two pianos, marimba and vibraphone. Its Hungarian outlook borrows from Bartók - especially from the Concerto for Orchestra. The percussive orientation is thrown into relief by the exclusion of woodwind from the orchestra. The soloists: Ludwig Schessl, Karl Steinburger, Gernot Kahl, and Wolfgang Schubert.

La Parola, effectively a serious overture for virtuoso orchestra, has the bloodrush razor-edged bubbling vitality of the animated sections of the Triglyph. Surely Berger must have encountered William Schuman's orchestral scores during his stays in the US.

The Frauenstimmen (women's voices) again elides the wind parts but this time replaces them with a vocalising women's choir. This is a work of great delicacy - a facet of Berger's character. It is in three movements and drifts in watery depths much emphasised by perfumed roles for two harps and strings. The work is a shivering impressionistic approximation of Ravel (Daphnis) and Vaughan Williams (Antartica). The Gesichte im Fieberschlaf middle movement flickers with incessant action and the inventive choral writing recalls William Mathias's This Worldes Joie. Although in three sections Antes sets this 24 minute work in a single track. Its linkage back to the delicate tracery of the 1948 Homerische Symphonie is clear enough.

Berger has other dimensions apart from those fully on display here. The 1941 Legende vom Prinz Eugen has an heroic aspect - politically suspicious given the date, and the multiform lyrical web of the Homerische Symphonie (1948) is well worth encountering if you can trace an off-air recording. The Symphony was broadcast by Kubelik with the Bavarian RSO while Eugen was conducted by Oswald Kabasta with the Munich PO. The Sinfonia Parabolica (1956) was broadcast by the Berlin PO with Karajan. The 1964 violin concerto was relayed from Munich with Christoph von Dohnanyi conducting and Odnoposoff the soloist. By the way all four tracks are taken from broadcasts (presumably 1970s and 1980s) and suffer with some vestigial hiss and with a little low level audience noise.

Well worth exploring.

Rob Barnett

 

CONTACT DETAILS

Bella Musica Edition
distribution@bellamusica.de
Bella Musica Edition (Antes Edition)
Eisenbahnstr. 30
D-77815 BÜHL
Telephone: +49 (0)7223-98550
Telefax: +49 (0)7223-985566

 

For some composers the shadow of WW2 might just be still too strong. Henk Badings in the Netherlands ( apparently his wife had the tougher Nazi sympathies!), Florent Schmitt and Joseph Canteloube in France didn't hide their sympathies either.
Composers who "continued to work " during the war, were ,of course,not all active collaborators, but were often branded for a very long time after 1945.
« Last Edit: September 09, 2007, 11:07:23 PM by pjme »

Offline val

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Re: Composers in Germany 1933-1945
« Reply #46 on: September 09, 2007, 11:13:13 PM »
Quote
erato

My point being that this has nothing to do with the quality of their music. If you decide that you don't want to listen to it because of the composers personality, politics or whatever, that is perfectly fine, but that is your personal, non-musically motivated, choice.


In general, I agree with you. But I think that there are limits. I never heard Pfitzner's overture "Krakauer Begrüssung", and I don't think I will ever want to hear it. To compose a musical work with such a title and dedicate it to Hans Frank in an year (1944) when polish people was being slaughtered in the concentration camps under the orders of the same Hans Frank - perhaps the most enthusiast of the Nazi leaders reggarding the "final solution" - is something that cannot be forgiven, nor to the man or the composer.
But I have no problems in listening to Pfitzner Lieder or some of his best chamber works.

Offline The new erato

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Re: Composers in Germany 1933-1945
« Reply #47 on: September 10, 2007, 12:18:48 AM »


In general, I agree with you. But I think that there are limits. I never heard Pfitzner's overture "Krakauer Begrüssung", and I don't think I will ever want to hear it. To compose a musical work with such a title and dedicate it to Hans Frank in an year (1944) when polish people was being slaughtered in the concentration camps under the orders of the same Hans Frank - perhaps the most enthusiast of the Nazi leaders reggarding the "final solution" - is something that cannot be forgiven, nor to the man or the composer.
But I have no problems in listening to Pfitzner Lieder or some of his best chamber works.

I wouldn't listen to it either, for the same reasons. But not because its bad music (and I will never get to know whether it is). I think we agree.

Online Cato

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Re: Composers in Germany 1933-1945
« Reply #48 on: September 10, 2007, 05:16:47 AM »
I have only heard a few things by the "concentration camp" composers which began surfacing in the 1990's, e.g. Goldschmidt, Ullmann, etc.

Ullmann especially seems of interest, but I was not intrigued much by some of the other things.

This leads one to something which I recall was raised about Alexander Solzhenitsyn by my Russian professor: he did not think much of the books or stories at all, but remarked that one still had to know these works "because Solzhenitsyn is a great man."

Should one know the works of the death-camp composers because of their suffering?  I would think yes, but...what say ye?
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Drasko

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Re: Composers in Germany 1933-1945
« Reply #49 on: September 10, 2007, 02:45:22 PM »
I have only heard a few things by the "concentration camp" composers which began surfacing in the 1990's, e.g. Goldschmidt, Ullmann, etc.

Ullmann especially seems of interest, but I was not intrigued much by some of the other things.

This leads one to something which I recall was raised about Alexander Solzhenitsyn by my Russian professor: he did not think much of the books or stories at all, but remarked that one still had to know these works "because Solzhenitsyn is a great man."

Should one know the works of the death-camp composers because of their suffering?  I would think yes, but...what say ye?

Ullmann is most definitely worth exploring, I've heard one disc of his orchestral music (mostly orchestrations of piano sonatas) and was immediately taken by it. If I'd have to describe it in a few words, to me it felt like Mahler distilled by Schoenberg and packed into small forms. I've been trying to find his chamber opera (written in Terezin) Der Kaiser von Atlantis since but with no luck so far, it seems to be oop.

Berthold Goldschmidt wouldn't actually fall into "concentration camp" composers since he emigrated to England in 1935.

As for your question; should we listen to their music because they suffered and regardless of it's possible quality, I honestly don't know the answer. 

pjme

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Re: Composers in Germany 1933-1945
« Reply #50 on: September 11, 2007, 03:59:34 AM »
this ballet score by Egk has recently been released on the Oehms label



Landskapelle Eisenach / Mark Mast

Offline Maciek

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Re: Composers in Germany 1933-1945
« Reply #51 on: September 11, 2007, 04:04:11 AM »
Are "concentration camp composers" (the witty alliteration somehow doesn't seem to fit the sombre subject...) composers who died in concentration camps? Composers who composed in concentration camps? Composers who went through concentration camps? Because there are composers who died in concentration camps but did not compose anything while there. And there are composers who survived concentration camps and composed while there. And there are etc., etc., etc.

Online Cato

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Re: Composers in Germany 1933-1945
« Reply #52 on: September 11, 2007, 04:48:02 AM »
Ullmann is most definitely worth exploring, I've heard one disc of his orchestral music (mostly orchestrations of piano sonatas) and was immediately taken by it. If I'd have to describe it in a few words, to me it felt like Mahler distilled by Schoenberg and packed into small forms. I've been trying to find his chamber opera (written in Terezin) Der Kaiser von Atlantis since but with no luck so far, it seems to be oop.

Berthold Goldschmidt wouldn't actually fall into "concentration camp" composers since he emigrated to England in 1935.

As for your question; should we listen to their music because they suffered and regardless of it's possible quality, I honestly don't know the answer. 

Goldschmidt: I was under the impression he was one of the death-camp composers.  Thanks for the correction.

I would think that simply for the experience of knowing what a composer would create under death-camp conditions, despite the amount of talent involved, one would want to give the music a chance.
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uffeviking

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Re: Composers in Germany 1933-1945
« Reply #53 on: September 11, 2007, 06:45:59 AM »
I believe this subject is getting off the intent of the originator. Maciek made a great start with his post, asking for clarification of 'concentration camp composers'. Now comes the phrase 'concentration camp conditions'. What's that suppose to mean? Did every German citizen live under these conditions? What conditions?

Thank you for reading carefully the very first post in this category. :)

Offline MishaK

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Re: Composers in Germany 1933-1945
« Reply #54 on: September 11, 2007, 07:47:01 AM »
I believe this subject is getting off the intent of the originator. Maciek made a great start with his post, asking for clarification of 'concentration camp composers'. Now comes the phrase 'concentration camp conditions'. What's that suppose to mean? Did every German citizen live under these conditions? What conditions?

Thank you for reading carefully the very first post in this category. :)

I think Cato merely expressed a curiousity as to what a composer might write while an inmate of such a camp and how the creative process still manages to function under such conditions.

Online Cato

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Re: Composers in Germany 1933-1945
« Reply #55 on: September 11, 2007, 08:28:41 AM »
I think Cato merely expressed a curiousity as to what a composer might write while an inmate of such a camp and how the creative process still manages to function under such conditions.

Thank you!    :D

Given that such conditions have not occurred often, it is an extreme psychology we are addressing, with Stalin and Hitler and Mao being the main culprits.   Stalin's shadow over Prokofiev and Shostakovich and others is well documented: what happened to composers less known, who were perhaps sent to the far eastern death camps, is still a mystery.   

In China, where the body count probably surpassed Stalin's, the hostility of Mao toward any kind of intellectual probably spelled doom for many composers of anything not following a Socialist Realist line.

Whether any Cambodian composers existed and composed music in the Killing Fields, I am not sure: here is a Cambodian opera about the era, but not composed during it:

http://www.boston.com/ae/theater_arts/articles/2007/04/22/from_the_mekong_to_the_merrimack/

Ultimately what you see, whether in Nazi or Communist death camps, is some sort of flickering of the optimism of life in the face of death
   
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Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Composers in Germany 1933-1945
« Reply #56 on: September 11, 2007, 03:42:24 PM »
I am-obviously-delighted that the thread I started has generated interest. Clearly the discussion has ranged more widely than I had originally intended but that was inevitable really! The nature of a forum is that posts will reflect the particular interests of the members and the discussion will extend to other aspects of the original topic.
I respect sincerely the strong views expressed by several people who have contributed. For example, I too regard the attitudes taken by Hans Pfitzner to most of his fellow composers with a goodly measure of contempt although it is probably fair to say that Pfitzner was a pretty unpleasant man for most of his life and that his jealousy of (some) other composers had led him to denigrate their work long before 1933. It is also true to say that his apparent admiration for Hans Frank, the Governor-General of Poland, was largely the consequence of Frank taking him in and looking after him in Cracow after he had fallen out with Hermann Goering! Should I stop listening to Pfitzner's music? I don't know. I listen to music composed by Russian composers who slavishly sought Stalin's approval by writing music in praise of a dictator who was sending millions to the gulags. Can one-should one-automatically despise and reject the art because one despises the artist as a human being or a political animal?

What I tried to set out to do in this thread was to suggest that there MAY have been music of quality written in Germany between 1933 and 1945 either by composers who co-operated openly or tacitly with the regime or by composers who simply remained in Germany during that period but which has-in many cases-been largely ignored since then. I know that certain composers who remained in Germany-and, of course, many had only a limited degree of choice in the matter-largely fell silent either through choice(like Hartmann) or because they had lost their teaching positions because of their "suspect" political positions or their perceived "modernist" musical styles(I would instance that extremely fine composer Boris Blacher). The tragedy is that even if they did largely fall silent their reputations were-to a degree-damaged in many cases. Blacher lost his teaching position in 1942 and his impressive Oratorio "Der Grossinquisitor" was written while he was at a particularly low ebb of personal and professional despair. Others were able to continue to teach and to have their music performed(eg Ernst Pepping).

Perhaps at the end of the day it is axiomatic that contemporary music which was acceptable to the regime was by defintion mediocre.
I don't know! And until I can hear more of it I will continue not to know for certain!

Online Cato

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Re: Composers in Germany 1933-1945
« Reply #57 on: September 12, 2007, 02:36:19 AM »
Thanks to Dundonnel for the above comments.

Many decades ago Alexander Tcherepnin and his wife corresponded with me on musical matters, and the topic came up about a composer's intentions, and how relevant that might be to an opus.

In essence they warned that terms like "sincerity" were worthless: sincerity can produce all kinds of garbage, and just because one might e.g. be painting a portrait of Mother Teresa does not ipso facto qualify it to hang in the Louvre.

The music must stand alone, therefore, on its own terms, and be judged apart from the extra-musical associations which might have contributed to its genesis: this was their attitude.

And yet I personally must admit that I cannot always separate the two aspects: I am distressed when I hear and see sections of e.g. Wagner's Ring where e.g. the character Mime is used to make satirical fun of Jews.  Stalinist potboilers also make me intellectually queasy, and there is always a certain melancholy in postulating what might have been in the careers of Prokofiev, Shostakovich, and many others, if they had lived elsewhere, or if Communism had never existed.
"Meet Miss Ruth Sherwood, from Columbus, Ohio, the Middle of the Universe!"

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