Bäuerliche Volksmusik Aus Südtirol 1940-42: Originalaufnahmen Zwischen NSIdeologie Und Heimatkultur / Peasant Folk Music of South Tyrol 1940-42: Original Recordings Bridging Homeland Culture and Nazi Ideology

By Bohlman, Philip V. | Yearbook for Traditional Music, January 1, 2011 | Go to article overview

Bäuerliche Volksmusik Aus Südtirol 1940-42: Originalaufnahmen Zwischen NSIdeologie Und Heimatkultur / Peasant Folk Music of South Tyrol 1940-42: Original Recordings Bridging Homeland Culture and Nazi Ideology


Bohlman, Philip V., Yearbook for Traditional Music


Europe Bäuerliche Volksmusik aus Südtirol 1940-42: Originalaufnahmen zwischen NSIdeologie und Heimatkultur / Peasant Folk Music of South Tyrol 1940-42: Original Recordings Bridging Homeland Culture and Nazi Ideology. 2008. Studien Verlag, Innsbruck. Edited and annotated by Thomas Nußbaumer, with note, "On the South Tyrol Collection," by Alfred Quellmalz. 180-pp. book with notes in German and English. 33 b/w photos, 29 musical notations. 47-item bibliography. 2 compact discs: 36 tracks (70:07), 32 tracks (70:42).

Most baffling of all, as the Nazi obsession with documenting the worlds transformed by the violence and racism of German expansion during World War II is confronted, analysed, and made widely available, is the lack of simple answers about why, for whom, and to what ends German film and recording crews would undertake such meticulous documentation. Why, we ask when viewing Yael Hersonski's A Film Unfinished (2010 Oscilloscope Pictures), a documentary film about documentary film-making in the Warsaw Ghetto on the eve of its initial destruction in 1942, should carefully staged scenes of Jewish social life be mixed with shots of death, disease, and overcrowding? Ethnomusicologists and folkmusic scholars, no less than documentary film-makers, embarked on organized field expeditions, mapping the Eastern European territories claimed by advancing armies and gathering songs in easy-to-use anthologies, such as those produced in the series, Landschaftliche Volkslieder.1 Should the details speak for themselves? Or are they meant to survive as ciphers of a world pushed into the past, denied a voice of its own in some imaginary future?

Such perplexing questions only multiply and assume even more complex dimensions in Thomas Nußbaumer's superb edition of the field recordings made by Alfred Quellmalz (1899-1979) and his ethnographic team (most significantly, Fritz Bose) during 1940-42 in Südtirol/Alto Adige, the alpine border region of northern Italy, in which German, Italian, and the regional Italianate language, Ladino, as well as multiple dialects of these languages, are spoken. The director of the "Folk Music Department" of the Berlin institute dedicated to researching German music (Staatliches Institut für Deutsche Musikforschung), Quellmalz had access to the most advanced recording technologies, and he was able to collaborate with local research institutions, which long had contacts with the musicians throughout northern Italy. The Südtirol project would become the single most extensive ethnographic undertaking by the German SS, under the leadership of Heinrich Himmler, in their scientific commission dedicated to Ahnenerbe (ancestral heritage). From the outset, the Südtirol project had the specific ideological goals of collecting music from the German-speaking residents of northern Italy who had been given the option in 1939 to exchange their Italian citizenship for German citizenship, which subsequently made resettlement in the German Reich possible. Approximately 85% accepted this option.

Do the sixty-eight recordings gathered for the present anthology actually bear witness to the ideologies of German expansion and fascism, which were, of course, shared by the Italians at the time? As the recordings themselves make evident and as Nußbaumer's sensitive documentation with transcription and analysis further reveals, the musicians recorded here step out of their daily lives or from their cyclical rituals to perform in the local inn or cultural centre transformed into a recording studio in the field.

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Bäuerliche Volksmusik Aus Südtirol 1940-42: Originalaufnahmen Zwischen NSIdeologie Und Heimatkultur / Peasant Folk Music of South Tyrol 1940-42: Original Recordings Bridging Homeland Culture and Nazi Ideology
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