The Politics of Music in the Third Reich

By Michael Meyer | Go to book overview

Race, Folk Hero and the New German Musician

The more or less successful organization of music and public opinion and the purges of Jews and other undesirable musicians consistent with the ideology and interests of the Nazi state were justified to musicians as preconditions for the reconstruction of a purified national culture to which they would contribute and through which they would be inspired to write a new music. Music politicians, journalists, musicians and musicologists joined in the manipulated attack against representatives and expressions of "cultural bolshevism," especially against jazz and atonality. The previous chapters document a vast, state-sponsored musical enterprise, as thousands of compositions were submitted and performed to fill the gap left by the purges. Aside from the traditional offerings of both the serious and entertainment variety, many new works aspired to reflect the new political order. The theoreticians attempted to identify the positive qualities of these compositions, in search of a definition of what constituted "pure" German music beyond simply cataloguing the variety of music composed by Aryan Germans in Germany for the appreciation and edification of Germans. While the capturing of an inner essence eluded musicologists, composers were not able to get beyond appending Nazi texts to traditional musical forms. Especially during the first three years of the Third Reich, composers produced a tremendous amount of music with Hitler dedications, titles, and appropriate texts (in many instances aplied to old compositions): folk songs, Nazi fighting songs, party cantatas and oratorios, operas, operettas and monumental open air rituals such as the Thing Theatre. Serious instrumental works, said to reflect the synthesis of the classical and folk traditions with the Nazi experience and ideas, emerged as expressions of the projected musical renaissance. Titles identified pieces and individual movements, and program notes were added to leave no doubt about the intended association, as in Hansheinrich Dransmann choral work, Einer baut einen Dom, an homage to Hitler, the builder of the Cathedral of the Reich. The state and party organizations supported this creative effort by means of festivals and the encouragement for stages to be receptive to the newly defined contemporary music, especially that of the younger genera-

-253-

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The Politics of Music in the Third Reich
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgements v
  • Contents vii
  • List of Illustrations ix
  • Glossary of Select Terms and Abbreviations xi
  • Introduction 1
  • Endnotes 15
  • 1933: Nazi Power, Purges And Revolutionary Promise 19
  • Endnotes 79
  • Music Organization (1933-1945) 89
  • Race, Folk Hero and the New German Musician 253
  • Endnotes 321
  • Wilhelm Furtwängler: Collaboration And a Struggle of Authority 329
  • Endnotes 388
  • Index 395
  • Ullustrations 417
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