Magazine article New Internationalist

(Korngold, Erich. das Wunder der Heliane)

Magazine article New Internationalist

(Korngold, Erich. das Wunder der Heliane)

Article excerpt

In 1938, Dusseldorf in Nazi Germany staged an exhibition entitled Entartete Musik -- 'degenerate music'. Its purpose was to demonstrate to the Fatherland the horrors of any music that wasn't about Wagnerian superheroes climbing glaciers. Atonal music, jazz, and 'degenerate subjects' were targeted.

Now Decca has -- with grim purpose -- taken up the Nazi phrase to launch a series of music suppressed under the Third Reich. Operas by the almost - forgotten Krenek and Korngold open this ambitious, admirable series, which seeks not just to rehabilitate important music but has an eye firmly on the present.

Jonny was a hit from its premiere in 1927. Although the Austrian Krenek was not Jewish, it's easy to see why the Nazis found his jazz opera degenerate. Jonny, a charmer in an all - black jazz band, has a fondness for stealing but also gets the best tunes. Max, his antithesis, is a glacier - climbing composer riddled with metaphysical doubts: hardly a model Aryan. Above all, Jonny was a modern opera, featuring telephones, radios and cars as well as stage sets influenced by Bauhaus and expressionism. …

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