posted 01 February 2004
Newsletter No. 6, January 2004
edited by Martin Anderson
This issue of the e-newsletter of the International Forum for Suppressed Music contains a number of particularly valuable items, not least the article by Tim Jackson which opens the proceedings and draws attention to two composers who had entirely slipped from sight. Georg Tintner is now almost a household name in several hundreds of thousands of households, at least, since his recordings of Bruckner symphonies for Naxos have now sold more copies than the next three most popular cycles of the Symphonies combined. But Tintner the composer is a different matter, as his widow, Tanya, explains.
The major focus of the work of the IFSM has been music by composers who suffered under the Nazis and, indeed, there's enough material there to keep any organisation occupied for decades. But the brief of the IFSM is to examine music under dictatorship, and Edson Tadeo Ortolan's article on Brazil's musical life under its recent dictatorship points to a subject that most of us will be hardly know.
At around 25,000 words this newsletter is more than long enough, and so the article on Szymon Laks and his music, promised in the Editorial of Newsletter No. 5, is being held over until No. 7. The initial intention was to have a newsletter that was more or less quarterly, and it may well be the fault of yours truly twenty years an editor of
magazines (in economics, if you really want know): it seems I still reason as of old, building up something solid and meaty, whereas in these electronic days we ought to be sending out newsletters much more rapidly, with information on concerts, broadcasts, publications, etc., in our increasingly busy forum of interest. I shall try to reform.
1. Paul Kletzki and Reinhard Oppel: Two Forgotten Composers
Many well-established composers found that an international reputation was of little help when the Nazis came to power in 1933. The advent of the Nazis was to prove disastrous for less well-known Jewish composers like Paul Kletzki, as well as for those few German composers like Reinhard Oppel who were antagonistic to the regime. Kletzki narrowly escaped the Nazi regime thanks to his Swiss wife. Although Oppel a close friend and colleague of Ludwig Schenker (18681935), the famous Viennese Jewish music theorist was not Jewish, he was an outspoken critic of the Nazis, gradually became persona non grata and died in 1941.
But the intrinsic quality of Kletzki's and Oppel's music did not pass unrecognised before 1933. Indeed, in the late 1920s, Kletzki's career as a composer was blossoming; Oppel, too, was enjoying increasing success through publication, performance and even radio broadcast of his music throughout Germany, Austria and Switzerland. But the Nazi accession to power put a damper on both of these composers' careers, and their music was buried for many years quite literally.
Kletzki, Furtwängler and Kletzki's Third Symphony Before 1933, Paul Kletzki (190073) was a hugely successful young composer and conductor, a wunderkind who enjoyed the patronage of two of the greatest musicians of the time, Wilhelm Furtwängler, with whom he studied conducting and composition in Berlin in the early 1920s, and Arturo Toscanini. That indirectly connects Kletzki, too, with Schenker: Furtwängler had been one of Schenker's most advanced students. On 19 May 1931, Furtwängler had written a letter of recommendation for Kletzki which reads: 'In Paul Kletzki I recognise not only an extremely talented composer but one of the few conducting talents of the younger generation who really has a great future ahead of them'.
The controversy concerning Furtwängler's role in Nazi Germany continues to this day. And it is relevant to the 2002 recording on Teldec of Furtwängler's Second Symphony and the BIS recording of Kletzki's Third Symphony scheduled for release in March 2004. In Phillip Huscher's programme notes to the Furtwängler Second Symphony, where the Chicago Symphony is conducted by Daniel Barenboim, the production is billed as an apologia to Furtwängler: by recording the Second Symphony, the Jewish conductor Barenboim, now head of the Chicago Symphony who was labelled 'a phenomenon' by Furtwängler in the summer of 1954 corrects the historical 'wrong' of the Chicago Symphony withdrawing its offer to Furtwängler to conduct the orchestra in 1948 because of protests concerning Furtwängler's alleged Nazi sympathies. Huscher writes that Furtwängler 'conducted very little during the war'. But as anybody familiar with Furtwängler's many recordings would know, he conducted a good deal during 193945. As Michael Kater observes in The Twisted Muse (Oxford University Press, 1997):
Many of his [Furtwängler's] future performances were to take place within highly propagandistic frameworks, rendering his art eminently political. Among the first of these, ironically, was his directing Wagner's Die Meistersinger at the same party rally that ushered in the anti-Jewish Nuremberg Race Laws of September 1935 an action on the part of Furtwängler that made a mockery of his broad pledge to save Jews. In 1942, after Furtwängler's tour to Scandinavia, Goebbels noted that he was 'overflowing with national enthusiasm'. Two years later [in 1944] the minister remarked that 'the tougher things become, the closer he moves to our regime'. What is more, 'Furtwängler shows himself from his best side. He is a genuine patriot and warm adherent and advocate of our politics and martial leadership. All one has to do these days is to tell him what one wants from him and he will immediately deliver'.
It was only as the regime crumbled in early 1945 that Furtwängler, fearing for his personal safety, fled to Switzerland.
New information about Furtwängler's relationship with Kletzki not only sheds light his attitudes toward Jewish colleagues, but also is relevant to the genesis and semantics of Kletzki's Third Symphony (1939). Apparently, the young Kletzki had lived with Furtwängler in the 1920s, who had treated him 'like a son'. In 1925, Furtwängler had permitted Kletzki to conduct the Berlin Philharmonic the youngest person ever to do so and had recommended his music for publication by Simrock and Breitkopf und Härtel. In his recently published memoir My First 79 Years, Isaac Stern recalled:
There was a very well-known conductor named Paul Klecki [the original, Polish, spelling of Kletzki], a wonderful musician with whom I've played over the years, at La Scala and in Switzerland, America, and elsewhere. He was a Polish Jew of remarkable musical ability, with a lovely Middle European sense of humor, a wry smile, and a pair of huge eyebrows one went up and the other down, giving a unique expression to his face. He had been a protégé of Furtwängler's, had lived in his house, was virtually a member of his family, a son to him. In 1933, Klecki fled Germany and ended up in Italy, without work and nearly starving, barely managing to live on three or four bowls of spaghetti a week. He told me that when he read in the papers that Furtwängler was coming to Switzerland to conduct at the Lucerne Festival, he wrote to him there: 'Remembering the closeness of our lives together in Berlin for so long, I ask you as a friend to send me some help here to Italy. I would ask you only when you are out of Germany so that you can do this with foreign funds that would not necessarily go through any German authority'. Klecki didn't receive an answer for a long time. Finally Furtwängler wrote, 'My dear Paul, as your old friend, I would love to help you. As a German, I cannot'. [pp. 6869].
In September 2003, I visited Kletzki's widow Yvonne (his second wife) at her home in Mueri bei Berne and was provided with a copy of letters from Furtwängler to Kletzki and his first wife, and the draft of a letter from Kletzki to Furtwängler. The exchange reveals much about the effect of the Nazi persecution of Jewish musicians on what had been a close friendship.
Apparently, sometime in 1937, Kletzki must have written to Furtwängler seeking his help since Furtwängler responds (1 December 1937):
The correspondence continues, now with a letter to Mrs Kletzki from the Hyde Park Hotel in London, dated 3 June 1938:
Dear Mrs. Kletzki,
The letter to which Isaac Stern seems to be referring is dated 23 June 1938 and was written from Paris. Furtwängler writes:
The next day (24 June 1938), Furtwängler was in Zürich, and wrote again:
Dear Mr Kletzki,
On the surface, it seems as if Furtwängler is trying to help Kletzki, if not to launch a career in Switzerland, then to emigrate safely to America. But, at the same time, in reality, he did almost nothing; without doubt, Kletzki was profoundly wounded by Furtwängler's emphasis on his 'Germanness' as something preventing assistance when Kletzki found himself blacklisted as a Jew and in desparate straights. Furtwängler's diffidence on this point would come back to haunt him when he tried to renew his friendship with Kletzki and his wife (who had remained in Switzerland throughout the War). At the Clinique La Prairie in Clarens, we find Furtwängler writing to Kletzki on 29 March 1945:
Dear Mr Kletzki,
Kletzki responded to this letter as follows:
Dear Mr Furtwängler,
Furtwängler responded on 1 May 1945, again from 'La Prairie':
Dear respected Mr Kletzki,
Kletzki's Third Symphony, completed in October 1939, is dedicated to Madame Olga Oboussier, a wealthy woman who had purchased music paper for the destitute refugee, is subtitled In Memoriam. This epigraph can be interpreted in various ways. It may signify the already considerable number of victims of Nazism by 1939, including Kletzki's own family: his mother, father and sister were to be murdered in the Holocaust, although he did not receive official confirmation until the Polish ambassador gave him the news before the first performance of the slow movement of the Symphony' in Paris in 1946. Or, it may be 'to the memory' of the great German art-music tradition that Kletzki had felt part of, but which he now believed like Furtwängler personally had rejected him. Indeed, it is clear that time did not heal these wounds for Kletzki the composer since he 'lost his voice' after 1942 not to mention his pre-1933 music (as will be explained below). Kletzki claimed that his post-War compositional silence emanated from 'The shock of all that Hitlerism meant [which] destroyed also in me the spirit and will to compose'.
Kletzki's Music: A Major Discovery Kletzki was teaching at the Scuola Superiore di Musica in Milan in 1936 when he realised that, as a stateless Jew, he was in mortal danger. He buried his music in a large metal chest, and fled first to Russia and then to Switzerland, where he lived as a refugee during the Second World War. The area where the chest was buried was heavily bombed, and Kletzki believed that his music had been destroyed. After the War, he stopped composing. His last works, his Third Symphony and his Fourth String Quartet, were created while he was a refugee in Switzerland. In a newspaper interview published in Australia in 1948, Kletzki observed bitterly 'that even the copperplates from which my music was lithographed in Germany were melted down'.
In 1965, in the course of some excavations in Milan, the chest was discovered and returned. At this time, Kletzki was afraid to open it, believing that all his manuscripts and scores had turned to dust. It was not until after his death in 1973 that the chest was opened; the music was found to be perfectly preserved.
After the war, Kletzki achieved world-wide fame as a conductor. He was warmly received in Dallas, where he served as principle conductor of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra from 195861. In a review on 3 November 1960, the Dallas music-critic Eugene Lewis wrote enthusiastically:
Paul Kletzki is the kind of conductor who is the despair of reviewers. He eludes their pigeon-holing, and he debases their coinage. Just when one thinks he has the measure of the man and his music, Kletzki brings forth something new and wonderful. Just when one has exhausted his supply of superlatives, Kletzki achieves something that demands a new superlative.
Kletzki was a Wunderkind. Born in Lodz, Pavel Klecki became the youngest member of the Lodz Philharmonic Orchestra, when at fifteen, he joined its violins. From 191821 he studied philosophy at the University of Warsaw, and, in 1921, won first prize in a composition competition offered by the Warsaw Philharmonic. That year, he moved to Berlin, where he continued his studies at the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik. In 1925 Furtwängler invited him to guest-conduct the Berlin Philharmonic. A 1933 press release issued by the record company Telefunken reproduces the above-cited letter from Furtwängler where he praises Kletzki 'not only as a specially talented composer, but also as one of the few talented musical conductors of the young generation, who have a great future ahead of them'. Toscanini also weighed in: 'I estimate very highly Paul Kletzki as composer and conductor and have the best opinion of his capacities'.
As a composer, Kletzki had enjoyed remarkable success in Germany until the Nazi take-over in 1933, of course. The two most distinguished music publishers Simrock (Brahms's publisher) and Breitkopf und Härtel brought out all of his music. His works were premiered in the most important German concert halls. For example, the Piano Concerto, Op. 22, first performed in the famous Gewandhaus, Leipzig, was heralded by the press as 'once again a real concerto for piano'. The musicologist Alfred Einstein praised the Berlin performance of Kletzki's Second String Quartet, Op. 13 as 'a work of ripeness, personality, and style'.
The Nazi accession to power in 1933 forced Kletzki to flee to Italy. From 1934, as mentioned, he taught at the Scuola Superiore di Musica in Milan. In 1936, as Fascist Italy became increasingly anti-Semitic, Kletzki fled to the Soviet Union where he guest-conducted in Baku and Leningrad before being named the chief conductor of the Kharkov Symphony Orchestra in the Ukraine. But Stalin's Terror and specifically the purges of orchestral musicians and foreigners forced Kletzki to flee to Switzerland in 1938 (his wife, whom he had married in 1928, was a Swiss citizen, a circumstance which ultimately saved Kletzki's life). As reported in the Schweizer Illustrierte Zeitung (September 1943), Kletzki never knew when the order to expel him from Russia would be carried out:
Paul Kletzki was rehearsing Beethoven's Fourth Symphony with his orchestra [the Kharkov Philharmonic] when a detachment of soldiers, led by officers, marched in. Should they give him, one of the few remaining foreigners, the terrible news [of his deportation]? Officers and men sat in the hall, pulled out their pocket scores of the Symphony and quietly followed the rehearsal. Until the performance, they appeared punctually every day.
In 1940 and 1941, Kletzki guest-conducted the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande; in 1943 and 1944 he served as the principle conductor at the Lucerne Festival. After the War, he toured widely, including an extended tour in Israel in 1953, where he performed with Jascha Heifetz.
Kletzki first conducted in the USA in 1958. On 19 February Harriett Johnson, the critic of The New York Post, reported: 'Polish-born Paul Kletzki, who made his local debut last night leading the Philadelphia Orchestra in Carnegie Hall, looks like a prophet and conducts like a composer, which he was in his youth'. In a review of a concert by the Baltimore Symphony (also in February 1958), Weldon Wallace wrote that
Paul Kletzki, Polish-born musician, was given a standing ovation last night in the Lyric Theater, where he directed a program by the Baltimore Symphony. Mr. Kletzki has been engaged as the permanent conductor of the Dallas Symphony. His work last night indicated that the Dallas orchestra is indeed fortunate to have acquired a leader who has such a mature approach to music.
In 1961 Kletzki returned to Montreux, which was to remain his home base for the rest of his career. Finally, in 1966, he succeeded Ernest Ansermet as the General Music Director of the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande a position which he held until his death in 1973.
Kletzki left a series of distinguished recordings, which have recently been re-issued. His cycle of the Beethoven Symphonies, recorded by Supraphon with the Czech Philharmonic orchestra in the 1960s, was re-issued to critical acclaim in 2000 (SU 3451-2012, SU 3451-2012, and SU 34552012). He was especially well known for his Mahler and Sibelius. He made three recordings of Mahler's First Symphony with the Israel Philharmonic in 1954, the Vienna Philharmonic in 1961 and the Philharmonic Orchestra, also in 1961 all released by EMI. His recording of the Fourth Symphony with Emmy Loose and the Philharmonia Orchestra (1957) is widely considered definitive (EMI CZS 7 67726 2). His interpretation of Das Lied von der Erde with singers Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Murray Dickie, and the Philharmonic Orchestra (1959) has just been re-issued (EMI 5735292). His readings of the first three Sibelius symphonies are a revelation: Symphony No. 1, Philharmonia Orchestra, Testament SBT 1049 (1955, 1994); Symphony No.2, Philharmonia Orchestra, EMI CZS 7 67726 2 (1955, 1993); and Symphony No. 3, Philharmonia Orchestra, Testament SBT 1049 (1955, 1994).
Bridge Records has just released seven songs from Kletzki's Opp. 2 and 3. As the writer of the booklet text, Christopher Walton, remarked:
The early songs recorded here display a composer who has not merely mastered the late-Romantic tonal language of Mahler and Strauss, but has already found a quite individual voice. His oeuvre contains piano music, four string quartets, three symphonies, several concerti and much else besides. Judging from the scores, the level of inspiration seems to remain remarkably high. We are confident that, as more works of Kletzki are released, he will be recognized as one of the major discoveries of the past decade.
Reinhard Oppel: an unknown master Reinhard Oppel (18781941) was born in Thüringen, in the grand duchy of Coburg-Saxony-Weimar, the home province of Luther, Bach, Goethe, Nietzsche and Wagner. Later in life, he often returned to home, where he accompanied the Duchess of Saxony an amateur singer in her palace in Coburg. Indeed, many of Oppel's Lieder and chamber pieces were composed for a small circle of the Saxon aristocracy and educated bourgeoisie. Oppel was a close friend of Schenker sending him many of his compositions for critique and discussion.
During the War Oppel's music was hidden by his widow Elfriede. When the Oppel family fled from East Germany, Oppel's music was buried in his old First World War soldier's trunk in a garden house in the vicinity of Leuna, near Halle. In 1990, with fall of the Berlin Wall, Oppel's son, Kurt, was able to return and dig up the chest; he then brought it to his home in West Germany near Frankfurt. Oppel's books had been hidden in the church steeple of the town. In 1998, the University of North Texas invited Kurt Oppel to visit, and in 1999, the Oppel Collection, comprising the bulk of Oppel's surviving music and analytical work with Schenker, was placed on deposit in the UNT library.
Coincidentally, Schenker's music, diary (approximately 6000 pages) and correspondence, too, were preserved in a trunk hidden by Erwin Ratz in Vienna. He took possession of the trunk just before Frau Schenker's deportation to Terezín, where she perished in 1945, a few weeks before the camp was liberated. After the War, Ratz sent the music to Schenker's student Oswald Jonas, who had emigrated to California and landed a position at UC-Riverside. Schenker's personal papers (including about three hundred letters and cards from Oppel) are therefore now in the library of that university.
Oppel's friendship with Schenker was initiated in a letter dated 15 October 1913, and the correspondence extends until Schenker's death in 1935. The importance of composition for the friendship is revealed by Oppel's very first letter, since he introduces himself by sending one of his own pieces (preserved in the Oppel Collection in the University of North Texas, Dallas).
Dear Dr Schenker,
The main body of the letter concludes with a request for information about Schenker's own compositions. Schenker's diary reveals that he sent Oppel a detailed critique of the Sonata. Over the next twenty years, Schenker sent Oppel many detailed comments on his music, and also tried to help secure performances. In 1929 and 1931, Oppel composed two sets of Waltzes especially for Frau Schenker, an accomplished pianist. In his letters, Oppel kept Schenker abreast of his compositional activities, announcing concerts and radio broadcasts of his music.
Years later, in a letter (27 January 1978) to Franz Eibner (a professor at the Vienna Conservatory, who had written inquiring about documents now in the Oppel Collection), Oppel's wife Elfriede stressed his early autonomous development:
According to my recollection, the friendship between H. Schenker and my husband began shortly before..the First World War, as the two, independently from one another, investigated analytically the compositional principles of Bach's works and discovered the so-called 'Urlinie.' Through Schenker's publications they then became acquainted, they exchanged their research for years and saw each other often, in Vienna or Galtür or in Bad Ischl until Schenker's death. My husband died in 1941. About the political situation and the tragic death [in concentration camp] of Frau Schenker let us be silent.[I would be grateful if] it would be rewarding and possible for you, based on the extant materials, to mention the significance of the collaboration between H. Schenker and R. Oppel for the history of music.
At the beginning of 1935, deeply concerned about Schenker's health, Oppel had sent a letter of inquiry to Schenker's student Felix Salzer. In a letter from Salzer preserved in the Oppel Collection dated 3 February 1935, approximately two weeks after Schenker had passed away, Salzer replied with a report on the circumstances of his death. Not only does Salzer's letter provide important details concerning Schenker's last days, it testifies to his and Oswald Jonas's efforts to publish Free Composition and to the aspirations of the next generation of Schenkerians to continue the 'new teaching' in the context of an 'Institute for Schenkerian Studies' to be based in Vienna, with summer courses in Salzburg:
Planned are summer courses on Schenker and his teaching eventually [to be located] in Salzburg as a 'Prelude' for the establishment of a Schenker Institute. But all of this remains Zukunftsmusik! In any case, now we must spread his teaching with all the required intensity [of effort]. Naturally, I will do so with all of my own resources, nevertheless everything is still very much in the planning stages.
Unfortunately, the Nazis put an end to budding Schenkerian movements in Vienna and Leipzig. The new Center for Schenkerian Studies at the University of North Texas, established in association with the Reinhard Oppel Memorial Collection, represents an effort to realise these aspirations.
Like Schenker, Oppel was a member of the German 'cultural aristocracy'. Bitter over Germany's defeat in the First World War, Oppel briefly hoped that the Nazis would rid Germany of 'cultural Bolshevism', but both he and Schenker quickly came to regard Hitler with contempt. Oppel's and Schenker's opposition to the new government are clearly documented in Schenker's diary: in an entry for 13 July 1933, Schenker noted receiving a letter from Oppel: 'evidence of [his] disenchantment with the new regime.' On 23 July, Schenker reported 'Letter to Oppel dictated: I confirm him in his scepticism.' Oppel refused to join Nazi organizations and maintained critical distance from the regime. His son Kurt recalls his refusal to give the Nazi salute, and his implacable and imprudent opposition to the Nazis. Until 1938, Oppel often played the organ not only in Protestant and Catholic churches, but also in synagogues in Leipzig.
In spite of his well-known critique of some prominent contemporary composers (Schoenberg, Strauss, Stravinsky, Hindemith, Reger), Schenker believed a few of his close associates and students to be accomplished composers. In a letter to Oppel from 16 August 1932 that survives in the Oppel Collection, Schenker makes further reference to the songs of his student, Otto Vrieslander, to the music of Hans Weisse, and Oppel himself:
What you have written concerning the difficulties in securing performances of your compositions grieves me perhaps even more than it does you. While I firmly believe that the appreciation of the true value [of works of art] can wait, nevertheless I consider it especially helpful to find a practical way to get them into circulation. This is because, in my opinion, the composer requires the power of the work like his own physical [strength], and additionally should benefit from the judgement of the work by his contemporaries. For this reason, then, I am pleased that Vrieslander although with outside patronage could publish the Lieder. All the more do I wish that you too would receive such assistance! Many years ago I preached the same thing to Dr. Weisse. Think then, how much more convincing all of our efforts would have been if your's and Weisse's music were [widely] available.
Although many letters from Schenker to Oppel have been lost, a document testifying to Schenker's high regard for Oppel's music has survived. Preserved in the Oppel Collection is a copy of a letter from Oppel to his friend Josef Knettel in which Oppel quotes extensively from remarks concerning his piano pieces Opp. 21, 26, 27 and 28. Since these collections were published in the late 1920s, Schenker's comments probably date from 192930:
Your music came to me in my darkest hours like a ray of sunlight. I did not think it possible that a German musician could write a piece of music today like the first one in Op. 26, in which every note, together with the other notes (like human beings), is a complete event in itself; in which everything is expressed in a manner which is pure, heartfelt, elegant and profoundly German. Number 3 from the same book is also strikingly beautiful. Number 2 from Op. 27 is full of poetry and sadness. And Number 2 from Op. 21 is so exquisite and heartfelt. There is much that, to my ears, sounds harsh and unmelodious, but that stems from the complexity of your nature: S. Bach's world of feeling and voice-leading (Stimmführungswelt), in which you are so well grounded and which you are able to transmute into a new synthesis in your own distinctive way this is an achievement of daring. Where it succeeds it exerts a strange magic, offering something new, something of you; but it is too difficult to be able to succeed all of the time. No matter. Anyone (like me) who insists on perfection, as you might say, to redeem the material and enable the artist to redeem himself, only requires one single piece for which he can express his gratitude, like the one mentioned above, for example. In years gone by I would have drawn attention to these works straight away in a music journal, but these days all the journals keep their distance from me. It would not be too wide of the mark to say that I am 'boycotted' or 'sabotaged,' which does not shock me in the least even though it slows my work down and makes it more difficult. That is enough for now; do continue to compose music that is pure and comes from the heart. I played your works to my pupils and they were all amazed that there could still be music that was so profoundly moving.
Timothy D. Jackson
2. Classical Music under the Military Dictatorship in Brazil, 196485
All social and cultural segments of Brazil suffered terrible censorship and repression during the 21 years of military government between 1964 and 1985. Classical music didn't come through this time untouched, either, although compared to other artistic sectors (pop music, theatre and film, for example), the treatment of classical musician received was subtle, but no less humiliating.
The Advent of Military Rule There were many reasons for the coming to power of the military government, among them:
* the new order imposed by the Cold War (194590)
* the conservatism of the Brazilian élite, which was scared of the leftist-populist trends of João Goulart who was President between 1961 and 1964
* the Communist guerrilla threat in Latin America (mirroring the Cuban Revolution of 195359)
* social and civil movements (students, unions and other organisations) that demanded more power and political participation.
In this tense atmosphere, the Brazilian elite, religious leaders (both Catholic and Protestant) and the media all supported the military and urged them to undertake a coup d'état, and side with the west.
Once in control, the military took things seriously. They closed the Congress, took away left- and right-wing politicians, forbade democratic or communist institutions, neutralised the unions, dismissed teachers and public employees and put end to the pluralism of political parties. Initially, there was still some degree of freedom: there were pop-music festivals, plays and movies could be watched all over the country, and criticism of the military was printed in the media.
But at the end of 1968 the military closed down the political system completely. Censorship became stricter, and more politicians, teachers and artists were dismissed or exiled. Fighting took place against the guerrillas and torture became common in the gaols. (It is important to remember that at this time other, similar dictatorships appeared in Latin America in Paraguay, Uruguay, Chile and Argentina.)
In the 1970s the military government was firmly established. (At this time Brazil had some small developments in technology and telecommunications, and also in transport, where new highways shortened travelling distances.) But at the end of the 1970s, the democratic and civil movements reorganised. In 1978, the military started the phase called 'The Political Opening' and after this, in 1979, 'The Amnesty'. Intellectuals and democratic politicians of various ideologies were allowed back into the country. Democratic institutions and parties were allowed to function again.
At the beginning of the 1980s the military was exhausted and their defenders dispersed. In 198384 there was a pacifist campaign for direct elections to the presidency called 'Diretas ja' ('Direct Elections Now'), but the military forbade it. Finally in 1985, the civil-democratic forces carried the country peacefully to the current democracy.
Confrontation between Musicians and Military Government In the period before the military government (194664), the composers, independent of their political thoughts, were teachers and lecturers in the music colleges or they were conductors or performers (most symphony orchestras and colleges were public institutions in Brazil). But during the coup d'état of 1964, many musicians were immediately discharged because of their Communist sympathies. Others were excluded from taking up appointments because they held pro-democratic opinions. The savage competition for high posts and salaries and the prestige they brought induced many people betray others to the DOPS (Departamento de Ordem Politica e Social Department of Social and Political Order, the repressive police-force). The only way many musicians could survive was to work in other musical areas (arranging pop music, offering basic musical education, teaching, composing jingles, working in television, films, and research into acoustics), to leave Brazil, or to end their careers in music. The colleges and orchestras became ghettos of egoistical leaders, without communication with one another. This damaged the integral development of the culture, and weakened the anti-fascist movements.
Many composers who disapproved of the dictatorship could work only if they had no political connections and concentrated solely on their music. On the other hand, the military didn't have any aesthetic concerns because they didn't understand musical theories and structures (atonality, electronics, aleatory, serialism, etc.). They inspected only those compositions with verbal or theatrical content. Therefore the composers chose texts without any political matter or a symbolic subject to avoid the vetoes.
It's important to remember, too, that the principals of some of the colleges even under government threat protected some composers, helping them in their democratic resistance so that some composers could work with financial and professional safety and maintain their existence.
In the final years of military rule, the struggle between musicians became more intense because several interest-groups were involved:
* those who defended the dictatorship and intended to remain in their post
To complicate matters, many people returned, demanding their right to return to their old posts of pre-1964. This process is still in course in several institutions of the country.
During the campaign 'Diretas ja', many musicians contributed to the bringing-down of the dictatorship. It is important to note the composition Sinfonia das Diretas ('Direct Elections Symphony') by Jorge Antunes, for choir, ensemble, electronic effects and car horns the non-musician drivers were invited to participate through newspapers, adverts and wall posters. Rehearsals of this music in an open square in Brasilia, capital of the Brazil took place under the surveillance of the DOPS (the repressive police).
Very little information about this subject is published in Brazil, because students and young scholars are still badly informed about this period of history. People are still afraid to mention this subject since:
* there are some people who were linked to the dictatorship and magically became democrats when the old regime collapsed and they don't speak about the their collaboration with militaries governments
And there is still the patrulhamento (supervision of Communist thinking) undertaken by the old Leftists. All these practices are creating new trouble in musical activities.
Edson Tadeu Ortolan
Translation: Luciana Fiori, Sharla Dornellas and Edson Tadeu Ortolan; editorial help by Betty Collick.
Bibliography Jorge Antunes, Sinfonia das Buzinas: o sublime e o util na fronteira entre o medo e a ousadia ('Car Horn Symphony: The Sublime and the Useful on the Borderline between Fear and Daring'), Academia Brasileira de Musica; Brasiliana/Rio de Janeiro, January 2000, pp. 619 Carlos Kater, Musica Viva e H. J. Koellreutter/Movimentos em direçao a modernidade, Musa Editora/Atravez, Sao Paulo, 2001 Marcos Marcondes (ed.), Enciclopedia da Musica Brasileira/Erudita, ArtEditora/Publifolha, São Paulo, 2000 Vasco Mariz, Historia da Musica Brasileira, Civilizaçao Brasileira/INL/MEC, Rio de Janeiro, 1981 Jose Maria Neves, Musica Contemporanea Brasilieira, Ricordi Brasileira; São Paulo, 1981
3. A Tribute to Marcel Prawy (19112003): The End of an Era and the End of a Research Project
Marcel Prawy, former Chief Dramaturg of the Volksoper and Vienna State Opera, died in February 2003. The highly successful career of a former émigré to the USA ended in his home town, Vienna a rare example, since the so-called 're-immigration' of former Austrian refugees of the Nazi Regime is an estimated 0.5%. His immensely large and valuable estate of recordings, personal documents and autographs was recently transferred to the Stadt- und Landesbibliothek Wien (City Library of Vienna), where it will be researched over the following years. Long before, in summer 2001, a smaller collection of correspondence and documents was discovered in the archive of the Vienna Volksoper. But by November 2003, the new management of the opera house had put effectively an end to a promising research project, initiated in spring 2002.
Who was Marcel Prawy? A Short Biography The name of Marcel Prawy, born in Vienna in 1911 (and then named Marcell Horace Frydmann Ritter von Prawy), more or less defines Austrian musical history of the late twentieth century. Born into a family where both parents were opera enthusiasts, Prawy was also 'hit' by this art-form at the age of fifteen. Thereafter he went to see opera performances on standing tickets in Viennese opera houses almost daily. During his studies in law at the University of Vienna (192934), Prawy also attended the musicology classes of Egon Wellesz. From 1936 until 1943, he acted as private secretary of the Polish singer Jan Kiepura and his wife Marta Eggerth, also a singer. During this period, the Nazis took power in Austria and Prawy emigrated with his employer to the USA in 1939.
Prawy's period of exile was marked by important acquaintances with many émigré musicians from Europe, contacts that would at times develop into personal friendships, such as with the singer Maria Jeritza. He was fascinated by and actively engaged in the American musical scene. He became especially interested in American musicals, and he met and befriended many American musicians and composers, the most prominent among them Leonard Bernstein.
In 1946 Prawy returned to Austria as a 'military civilian' of the US forces. In the early 1950s, based on his knowledge and experience about American musical culture gained during his emigration, he produced and presented excerpts of American musicals on a small scale in Vienna. With his appointment as Chief Dramaturg at the Volksoper (from 1955 until 1972), he was able to expand successfully his pioneer work in this musical genre to fully staged productions often in his own German translation. The first and highly successful production was Kiss Me, Kate! in February 1956, at that time the first musical shown in central Europe. A number of other shows followed in the next few decades. In 1972, Prawy moved to the Vienna State Opera, his main position being that of a Chief Dramaturg.
Prawy was also an effective and popular communicator of music on television. From 1965 onwards, he produced and presented the programme Opernführer ('Opera Guide') for the Österreichischer Rundfunk (ORF, the Austrian Radio and Television). In 1976 he created the Einführungsmatineen ('introductory matinees') of upcoming premieres for the Vienna State Opera for the first time, which since then were institutionalised and regularly broadcast. Prawy was also an academic educator, who taught as lecturer at the University of Vienna (Institut für Theaterwissenschaften, 196677 and 198286). He was Visiting Professor at Yale University (New Haven, Connecticut) from 1973 until 1976 and Professor at the Hochschule für Musik und darstellende Kunst in Vienna (197682).
For his wide-ranging work, Prawy received numerous Austrian and international awards. He died on 23 February 2003 in Vienna, aged 91, having remained professionally active until the end of his life. Marcel Prawy's death finally marks the end of the musical twentieth century in Austria.
The Prawy Estate In his last years Prawy was living at the renowned Hotel Sacher in Vienna (next to the Vienna State Opera). But he still rented a flat, which he used as a massive filing cabinet: all his material, correspondence and documents of all kinds, were filed in large plastic-bags and kept systematically on shelves which were erected throughout the whole flat including the cellar and excepting only the kitchen there were a few thousand bags, with an estimated value of €300,000. On 17 September 2003 they were formerly handed over to the Stadt- und Landesbibliothek Wien, following an agreement between the heirs of Prawy and the City Council of Vienna. The agreement also outlines the future plans for this new collection: a team of scientists is to examine and present the material obtained, and a new exhibition hall will be opened in 2004 with a small exhibit of the Prawy estate.
The Prawy Collection at the Volksoper Wien It was in summer 2001 that I discovered the correspondence and other material of Marcel Prawy in the administrative archive of the Volksoper. The archive was in a horrendous state, and it was virtually impossible to enter the room when I began my work. Another concern was the humidity and inadequate heating of the facilities. As an emergency measure, I was put in charge by the Intendant of making at least the archive 'accessible' again, since no other location was available to store the material in the archive. The discovered documents and correspondence of Marcel Prawy in the opera house's archive, the so-called Prawy Collection, does not have the dimension or value of the larger Prawy estate, although it does seem to be an important collection as far as the history of the opera house is concerned, as my first assessment indicated.
By the time I completed my first contract, in summer 2001, there were about 35 archival boxes of material, sixteen boxes alone in correspondence, dating from about 1955 to the early 1960s. I therefore proposed a research project in order to assess the importance of the documents found. At first, I decided to concentrate on the sixteen boxes of correspondence, intending first to work through the items of correspondence and, in a second step, planning a small exhibition for the foyers of the opera house which would, of course, have required the agreement of Prawy himself, since he was still alive at this time.
In summer 2002, the start of my research project, I examined four of the sixteen boxes and drafted a first database, listing about 500 documents. Two-third of these documents are scanned. They include not only letters to Prawy but also typescripts of his own letters, thus allowing the reconstruction of whole chains of correspondence, documenting the legendary Volksoper productions of musicals. Some documents show Prawy's planning process of the Volksoper's repertoire of that time. There is also a number of private letters to be found in the Collection.
The End of a Research Project Prawy's death brought legal insecurities for the collection in the archive of the opera house, which at this point is in the process of being clarified. In the meantime, however, there has been a change of management at the Volksoper Wien. Following disagreements between the new Intendant and myself on this project, the management has obviously decided not to employ me further. There was no response on part of the opera house on what the long-term perspective is for this valuable collection in the event that it remain in the archive of the Volksoper Wien. However, most of the correspondence is still being kept in facilities not suited for storing documents a serious danger to a unique collection.
Bibliography Peter Dusek and Christoph Wagner-Trenkwitz (eds.), Marcel Prawy erzählt aus seinem Leben, ORF/Kremayr & Scheriau, 1996 Primavera Gruber, 'Was geht uns das an? Kleiner Exkurs über das Verlieren und die Schwierigkeiten des Wiederfindens', in Elena Fitzthum and Primavera Gruber (eds.), Give Them Music. Musiktherapie im Exil am Beispiel Vally Weigl, Edition Praesens, Vienna, 2003, pp. 1725. Thomas Trabitsch (ed.), Marcel Prawy. Glück, das mir verblieb. Christian Brandstätter, Vienna, 2002
Notes  This figure is an estimate and refers to musicians who returned to settle in their home-country after a period of exile during Nazi Rule (information from Primavera Gruber cf. Bibliography).  Information provided by Frau Artmüller, Prawy's former secretary, on 27 August 2003.  The music collection of the Library contains also the estates of Beethoven, Schubert, Mahler, Johann Strauss II and Richard Strauss.  Information provided by Frau Artmüller, 3 October 2003.  Information provided by Frau Artmüller, 3 October 2003.  The archive is located in an external, unheated part of the opera house. I discovered the documents in a trunk. I reported my findings in an internal report of 20 July 2001.  The management of that time was apparently not aware of this situation.  An agreement was reached on 18 April 2001 and reconfirmed on 20 April 2001 in a phone conversation with Otto Hochreiter, Vice-Director of the Volksoper Wien.  The Internal Written Report of March 2003 for the management of the Volksoper Wien and the heirs of Prawy gives some specific examples.  I made a written proposal in March 2002, which was accepted. My working period was AugustOctober 2002.  My email of 1 Octobter 2003 to Herr Wagner-Trenkwitz, Künsterlische Koordination (Head of Artistic Coordination), on the continuation of the project and long-term plans for the Prawy Collection was not answered. Mr. Wagner-Trenkwitz was apparently put in charge of negotiating this project on behalf of the designated management of the Volksoper.
4. In Search of Georg Tintner, Composer
The conductor Georg Tintner, my late husband, became well known in the last two years of his life for his recordings of Bruckner symphonies on the Naxos label. What few people knew, even his close acquaintances, was that he was also a composer or, more accurately, had been. He wrote little in the last 40 years of his life, and virtually nothing in the last 20, yet his greatest wish was to create his own music. This proved impossible, for a number of reasons: personal misfortunes, loss of his culture, lack of acceptance in his new homeland, and failure to find the language in which to speak. Almost all his attempts to get performances of what he had written came to nothing, and in the end he gave up trying. Those who knew him in his later years did not know he had written a note.
Georg Tintner was born in Vienna in 1917 and became a member of the Vienna Boys' Choir. Here he began to compose, and conducted the other boys in his own compositions. At thirteen he was admitted to the composition class of Josef Marx as a composition prodigy, where Marx asked him to teach the other boys who were seven years older than he. At nineteen, after two years' conducting study with Felix Weingartner, he was hired as coach and chorus-master at the Volksoper. Six weeks after the Anschluss of March 1938 Georg lost his job and was forced to flee, eventually gaining admittance to New Zealand where he arrived in 1940. He became Music Director of the Auckland Choral Society and Auckland String Players in 1947 and remained with them until he moved to Australia in 1954 as resident conductor of the National Opera. New Zealand and Australia were both conformist, Anglocentric cultural wastelands which had little time for 'bloody foreigners', especially one who became a total vegetarian and rode a bicycle. Georg was never really accepted in either place, though Australia much less so than New Zealand.
Georg's compositional output was small not only because his voice failed him but because he wrote very slowly. His two most important works, the Violin Sonata (violin and piano, 29 minutes) and The Ellipse (string quartet and soprano, seventeen minutes) took at least three years and four years respectively. But the work he really wanted to write, an opera based on John Ford's play 'Tis Pity She's a Whore, he could not manage, though he tried for 55 years. In 1962 quite extensive sections of the opera existed, at least in piano score; by 1976 there was not a note left. What happened to it is unknown, though there is a good probability he threw it away. His failure consumed him with grief. It shows that there are many ways to silence a creative voice other than sending it to a concentration camp.
There are many mysteries connected with his composing. One is why he was so careless with the manuscripts of what he called his 'children'. Since he died I have located some of his missing manuscripts, but an unknown quantity remains missing. I found six piano pieces in Woking, with the widow of a friend of his from high school in Vienna, Heinz Roehr, a keen amateur pianist who later became Sir Henry Rowe QC. Two of these were new to me and one was a piece for which Georg had been searching for 40 years; as he did so often, he had lent out the original and forgotten to whom. One of a set of four piano fugues turned up this year in the collection of the pianist Peter Cooper in the National Library of New Zealand. A quarter of a century after the Sydney Symphony Orchestra had played two of his pieces, Georg tried to recover the materials but without success. After he died I located one of the pieces, Chaconne and Fugue on a Theme of H. Brewster Jones, the score of which was still with the ABC Music Library, and the parts in the National Library of Australia. The other piece, Trauermusik, remains missing but there is hope it may yet be found.
At least one piano piece is missing, Beckoning Call from the Past, which was highly commended in the NZBC competition in 1957. Several songs are missing, including And at the End which was also highly commended in the same competition. An unknown number of songs are missing, but including Sommerregen, Ernste Stunden, The Trysting Tree, and possibly Vereinsamt, lost sometime in the late 1950s in Australia. The last page of an Andante for Horn and Piano, written when Georg was fifteen or sixteen, is also missing. Similarly with an unknown quantity of choral music Georg wrote for the Vienna Boys' Choir while he was still a member, or possibly shortly afterwards as he was appointed conductor of one of the training choirs for a year when he was eighteen. The choir has given all but a small amount of its music to the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek and it is not impossible that Georg's pieces may be somewhere in this collection (though a substantial portion of the choir's archives and materials were lost in 1938).
What remains of Georg's compositions includes, in addition to the Violin Sonata, The Ellipse and the orchestral piece mentioned above, a string trio (fourteen minutes); a small quantity of piano works; an Andante for Horn and Strings (the same piece as the Andante for horn and piano, with the difference that this version is complete, whereas the piano version is short of the last six bars); several brass fanfares; Lafa's Ardour (an orchestral overture); about eighteen short choral pieces both secular and sacred, for various vocal combinations; Vereinsamt for baritone and orchestra; and eleven songs, mostly dating from the 1930s, for voice and piano, some of which were orchestrated in 1993 for soprano and chamber orchestra. One of these songs, Frühling, was performed most beautifully by Christian Immler and Erik Levi at the IFSM 'Thwarted Voices' weekend at the Festival Hall, London, in November 2001. Legible scores and parts exist for all of these works except Lafa's Ardour and Vereinsamt, and I welcome performance and other inquiries.
Jewish Music Institute/School of Jewish Studies, University of Potsdam: An Association Music is an important part of the work of the School of Jewish Studies in Potsdam, Germany, headed by Professor Karl E. Groezinger. Three research projects in this area are currently being carried out there.
One of them deals with an unique collection of 230 wax cylinders and numerous plates with recordings of Jewish folklore made in the 1920s and '30s during ethnographical expeditions by Moshe Beregovski and Sofia Maggid. They were discovered in St Petersburg and are now being examined, transcribed and digitised in Potsdam. Another project is devoted to the estate of a Polish Jewish collector, David Kohan, which includes 160 magnet tapes with recordings of different kind of Jewish music. It is intended that they, too, will be catalogued and digitised to make them accessible for the musicological research.
The pianist and musicologist Jascha Nemtsov, who recently visited the Jewish Music Institute after giving a lecture and concert at Goldsmiths College, is engaged in the third Potsdam project, on the 'New Jewish School' in music. This association of composers was formed at the beginning of the twentieth century in Russia to develop a nationally oriented Jewish style, which integrated elements of eastern Jewish folklore and Jewish liturgical music; a substantial body of work, covering a wide variety of genres, was built up in a relatively short space of time. The originality, richness of timbre and deep emotional effect of these works meant that they soon found acceptance in western Europe and America.
In 1908 the Society for Jewish Folk Music was founded in St Petersburg. Later Moscow, Berlin and Vienna became the most outstanding centres. Important composers of the standing of Joseph Achron, Mikhail Gnesin, Alexander and Grigori Krein, Joachim Stutschevsky, Alexander Veprik belonged to this group. The New Jewish School can be compared to other national currents that formed the European musical landscape from the middle of the nineteenth century onwards. But although Russian, Czech, Spanish or Norwegian national music was able to unfold and establish itself in the cultural conscience, the development of the Jewish school was violently terminated after only three decades by Stalinist and then Nazi policy.
In Potsdam the New Jewish School has been made the topic of special research for the first time. Jascha Nemtsov has just completed the first world-wide systematic history of this School entirely based on rare documentary materials and contemporaneous press. The book in German, but scheduled for translation into English focuses on the public activities and aesthetic principles of the New Jewish School. The histories of institutions and organisations such as the Society for Jewish Folk Music in St Petersburg, the 'Yibneh' and 'Yuval' publishing houses, the Society for Promotion of Jewish Music in Vienna and others have been reconstructed for the first time.
As a pianist Jascha Nemtsov has already produced several CDs with music of the New Jewish School which have highly esteemed by listeners and critics.
During a meeting with Geraldine Auerbach of the Jewish Music Institute, Jascha Nemtsov discussed various possibilities of co-operation between the JMI and the School of Jewish Studies in Potsdam.
An article on the New Jewish School will follow in the next IFSM e-newsletter.
'Entartete Musik' in Amsterdam
The 'ZaterdagMatinee' series, the weekly Saturday afternoon concerts at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw organised by Dutch Public Radio & Television (formerly known as VARA-Matinée), is planning a major 'Entartete Musik' feature as part of its 20045 season. Many exciting events are planned, beginning with a concert performance of Schrekers Der ferne Klang in September 2004, followed in November by a double-bill of the original version of Schreker's Der Geburtstag der Infantin with Zemlinsky's Der Zwerg, the first time that these two works (both based on the same Oscar Wilde story) have been paired in concert. Further events in the series will include major works by Korngold, Goldschmidt, Schulhoff, Wellesz, Gál, Haas, Krasa, Toch, Eisler, Braunfels and others. Further details will be available in the next issue of this newsletter.
News from the Kapralová Society
I am pleased to inform you that a new CD with songs by Vítezslava Kaprálová was released in late October by Supraphon in Prague. The compact disc (for details please visit www.kapralova.org) should be available in major classical music stores in your area or via your local distributor. Funding for this project was provided through support of the University of Michigan Office of the Vice President for Research, the University of Michigan School of Music, and The Kaprálová Society.
I would also like to bring to your attention the first issue of the newsletter of The Kaprálová Society, available in PDF format on our website [click here]. The newsletter will publish original research on Kaprálová, carry information about forthcoming publications and projects, and reprint articles on Kaprálová published elsewhere. The new issue contains the following articles:
In Search of a Voice: The Story of Vítezslava Kaprálová
Finally, I would like to inform you about a change in our mailing address. As of 30 October our new address is:
The Kaprálová Society 34 Beacham Crescent Toronto Ontario M1T 1N1 Canada
Our email address will remain the same: society[at]kapralova.org
Karla Hartl The Kaprálová Society www.kapralova.org
Hope Springs Eternal Daniel Hope writes: 'Thought you might like to know that "Forbidden Music" has been chosen as one of the Top 20 discs of the year by BBC Music magazine, January issue, and also as "Critics Choice Review of the Year", this coming Saturday morning [13 December] on CD Review, Radio 3'. Forbidden Music (Nimbus NI 5702) with music by Klein, Schulhoff and Krása is enthusiastically reviewed by Andrew McGregor: click here
Suppressed Music E-mail Discussion Forum The Suppressed Music discussion group has been up and running for over a year now, though it is not yet as busy a forum as we initially hoped. If you would like to join, send a paragraph about yourself to ifsm[at]jmi.org.uk and we will enrol you. The discussion group is proving a useful though insufficiently exploited forum for posting information, requests for help, discussing research topics, and so on.
Braunfels: Geneva Opera has scheduled a new production of Walther Braunfels' Die Vögel for January 2004.
Korngold: The Kensington Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Russell Keable, will perform Kongold's Symphony in F sharp in the Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, on Tuesday, 13 January 2004. Details: click here
Shostakovich: The Bard Music Festival for August 2004 will be on Shostakovich and His World. Each summer since 1990, this internationally acclaimed festival has been presented over two consecutive weekends in the summer on the Bard College campus [about 2 hours north of New York City] and a third weekend in the fall at Lincoln Center in New York City. The festival, known as the Rediscoveries series, annually undertakes a fresh exploration of a single composer's life and work through concerts, preconcert talks, panel discussions, and other activities. Recent festivals have focused on Bartók, Ives, Haydn, Tchaikovsky, Schoenberg, Beethoven, Debussy and Mahler, with this year's focus on Janácek. Details: click here. The concentration has often been on less-well known and chamber/vocal works, but opera and symphonic works have also been included in these Festivals. There are also a series of panel discussions with various experts.
Wellesz, Die Bakhantinnen at the Salzburg Festival
Last year, in his first season as artistic director of the Salzburg Festival, Peter Ruzicka presented Alexander Zemlinsky's opera König Kandalus. This year, on 24 August, it was the turn of Egon Wellesz's Bakchantinnen, premiered by Clemens Krauss at the Staatsoper in 1931.
Austria is a strange country when it comes to dealing with its damaged cultural past. It has never undergone the same process of recognition that Germany started in the mid 1980s. Indeed, Peter Ruzicka's advocacy of Zemlinsky while manager of the RSO Berlin with Riccardo Chailly, was one of the first steps in this development. Since then, there have been countless organisations, recording series and symposia as part of an active attempt to re-establish Germany's lost composers in their rightful place in the daily lives of its musical institutions. How ambivalent Austria remains about this precious cultural heritage was shown by the performance of Wellesz's masterpiece of music theatre.
A clarification of 'music theatre' is essential in understanding why offering anything less undermines the composer's intentions. Wellesz had come to a revelation that opera had to recapture that experience of total theatre so present in the Baroque and early Classical operas of Gluck. His works reinforce the pure musical structure of opera with obvious pageant and opportunities for grand effects and dance. In spite of the huge scale and constant forward movement of Bakchantinnen, it is a work which gains its full life only on stage in the hands of master directors and choreographers. This, of course, had been the Festival's intention, but budget cuts reduced this noble vision to a single concert performance in the Kleines Festspielhaus.
Listening to it under such circumstances, it was difficult not to feel frustration at the inadequacies and half-measures on offer. Even a concert performance can be presented as theatre. In this case, with only four orchestral rehearsals and a chorus shipped in from Bratislava, even that compromise was impossible to realise. How many rehearsals the orchestra had with the chorus I do not know, but cautious tempi and poor ensemble in the opening did not bode well. Properly thought out, minimum effort could have at least offered the essential double women's chorus and its intended antiphonal effect. Also missing were stage bands (all played from the pit) and even much of the score. As ever, cuts in a work almost always make it seem longer. Add to this some of the most shocking choral singing I've heard in a professional event, and one is left with mounting fury at the injustice done to an Austrian native son by their leading musical jamboree.
Local music institutions have a very strange two-faced attitude to this sorry period of history. On the one hand they agree that it was all simply frightful and something has to be done, while on the other doing it poorly and confirming the sceptical view that not much was lost after all. As time passes, one also encounters the attitude that it was all so long ago that the whole attempt at a revival is only retreading tyres worn out years back. To some extent, this isn't totally untrue in the case of Wellesz who had an astonishing reintroduction to Austria in 1948 with numerous performances in Salzburg, Linz and Vienna. Even so, he deserved better. Though I personally found most of the soloists between excellent and outstanding, the whole effort was undermined by the inadequacies of chorus and general lack of rehearsal.
Roman Trekel was an impressive Dionysos, Eva-Maria Westbroek an outstanding young dramatic soprano whose career should be followed, and Richard Very a very-much-more-than-respectable Pentheus. One should also positively mention the Kadmos of Lásló Polgár and the Teiresias of Georg Zeppenfeld. But to what purposes can such strongly cast roles serve if the chorus is messy and the orchestra has to compensate with accommodations in tempo? Listening to Marc Albrecht's recording of Bakchantinnen (Orfeo C 136 012 H), it's hard to believe it was the same person conducting the performance. Whereas the recording makes the listener snap to attention, the opening at the concert performance was strangely lacking in drive and energy. Once the chorus entered, it was clear what the problem was. Backstage effects (of which there are many) were attempted by having the chorus sing quietly. Even the most inexperienced musician can tell you that asking a chorus to give less voice will result (without proper rehearsal) in drags on the tempo. In fact, we ended up with the worst of both worlds: the tempo was sluggish, the ensemble messy and the chorus sounded weirdly uncertain of what to do next. More time and effort would have either had them genuinely off stage creating the effect of intoxicated wild women running through the forest or even if they had turned around and faced the back of the stage and used a monitor to relay the beat, we might have had more of an idea of what was suppose to be happening. At no time was the chorus split into the Maenades of Thebes and Asia as required in the score. The whole of both parts were belted out together as if singing a medley from Showboat, only less together and less in tune.
What one must realise when investigating music suppressed in the 1930s and '40s is that not every composer was a Mozart, Strauss or Beethoven. Wellesz was possibly somewhere near England's Arnold Bax in status and position. Had Bax been exiled and banned, his music unheard for years, one would probably question the wisdom of putting it on again years later. Most would simply dismiss it as 'almost Elgar and almost Vaughan Williams but not as good'. One critic acquaintance of mine from a prestigious British paper thought it pointless resurrecting what he considered second-rate music. This is the argument that is most common to discredit this period of music and these specific composers. Perhaps too many wild claims have been made in the past, but the fact remains, most of the music that was suppressed by the Third Reich was conventional and probably sounds superseded today. Every country has its important composers who did not have the popularity of the major contemporary figures of the day. The plurality of musical experience is enriched by these composers. It's not that they don't say what the more popular figures said with the same fluency and talent, but that they say something different. Every country glories in its second-file composers: Britain with Bax and Holst, France with d'Indy and Lalo, America with Howard Hanson, and so on. Only, it would seem, Germany and Austria are not allowed this luxury. Once banned, so the logic of my journalist acquaintance, there seems no reason to listen to them years later unless they can blow Richard Strauss off the concert map. Yet he would be the first to welcome a performance of a lost work by a minor Baroque composer and contemporary of Handel. This is the tragedy of the Nazi years: it destroyed German-speaking Europe's total picture of musical activity throughout the twentieth century. Let's hope that the powers that control Austria's musical budget have a rethink by the time the Festival mounts Korngold's much more popular Die tote Stadt next year and Schreker's Die Gezeichneten the year after.
Franz Schreker announced himself as a significant composer for the theatre with his second opera, the hugely successful Der ferne Klang, in Frankfurt in 1912. But Ferne Klang had been all but complete for a couple of years. The Court Opera in his home city of Vienna had accepted the work for production, but Weingartner's resignation as Court Opera Director put paid to those plans, and it was only after considerable efforts on the part of both composer and publisher (the new Universal Edition) that Ludwig Rotenburg in Frankfurt saw the potential of the piece. By this time Schreker was already well advanced with his next project, Das Spielwerk und die Prinzessin, with the libretto (again, his own) complete and the first act composed. With Vienna somewhat embarrassed by the success of Der ferne Klang, (and some prompting by Richard Strauss), it was agreed that the new opera would be produced in Vienna, on 15 March 1913, concurrently with Frankfurt. It was not a success in either house, and was taken out of the repertoire after just a handful of performances.
Schreker's reputation was restored with the immense success (in Frankfurt) of his next two operas, Die Gezeichneten and Der Schatzgräber. But he continued to believe in the Spielwerk project, and in 1916 he recast it into a single act, and under the new title Das Spielwerk it was performed in 1920 in Munich under Bruno Walter. The piece again failed to make its mark, and while Der ferne Klang, Die Gezeichneten, and Der Schatzgräber continued to be hugely popular throughout the German-speaking world and beyond well into the late twenties, Das Spielwerk received only isolated productions. Not surprisingly, it has hardly featured in the post-War Schreker revival, with only a concert performance in Vienna in 1984, and one staging of each version (Wuppertal, revision, 1987, and Wiesbaden, original, 1988).
In the past season, new productions of the one-act version in Darmstadt, and the original in Kiel, allowed not only a comparison of the two but a re-assessment their potential as well as their problems with eighty years and more of ugly history behind us. There is no doubt that, on a purely theatrical level, Das Spielwerk is a far more introverted piece than Der ferne Klang. It has little of the colour of the second act 'casa di maschere', or the simple magic of, for example, the first-act forest scene in the earlier opera. The libretto, a somewhat convoluted tale of a magical carillon, evil princess and a community in decay, was not easily understood. Indeed, it was seen as being too much indebted to French symbolism (Debussy's Pelléas received its first German production in Frankfurt in 1907, and reached Vienna in 1911), a movement that at the time appealed more to the head than to the heart in the German-speaking world. And in Vienna, where criticism was more vehement than in Frankfurt, Das Spielwerk seems to have had a particularly inept staging.
Now, though, we can see that the piece explores themes running through Schreker's whole operatic output the creative process, the perilous life of the artist amongst his fellow men, the power of music what music is for. In Der ferne Klang it was not difficult for the audience to follow Fritz in his quest for inspiration, only to find it, too late, with his abandoned lover. But in Das Spielwerk und die Prinzessin the layers of meaning run deeper; music plays a much more sinister role, as an evil stimulant with destructive power. The 'spielwerk', built by Meister Florian to high moral purpose but carrying an imperfection deliberately implanted by his journeyman, is now appropriated by the princess as an aid to sexual excess, and repression of her subjects. Florian has disowned his wife, Lisa, and violinist son (one-time lover of the princess), and is in turn despised by the locals. Salvation for the Princess arrives in the form of an itinerant flute-player, who is mysteriously able to restore the purity of the carillon, but when he and the Princess leave for the castle the villagers set fire to Florian's hut and with it the magical instrument.
For the 1920 revision, Schreker discarded the Prologue (a sombre scene in which four men fashion a bier which reappears later carrying the body of Florian's son), and conflated the two acts into one. Significantly, he changed the ending, replacing the final conflagration with a conciliatory tableau, in which mother and dead son find peace.
In Darmstadt, producer Friedrich Meyer-Oertel (also the director in the Wuppertal revival) and designer Heidrun Schmelzer add to the already dense symbolism by making explicit reference to New York post 11 September, with the action taking place in a cavernous ruined subway station, complete with twisted rail tracks, and occasional glimpses of brightly lit skyscrapers in the background. From these the Princess and her Steward descend to this desolate scene to enjoy their orgies (hypodermics in evidence, of course). There was no respite, little sign of the flute's regenerative powers, and against such a dismal background the serene ending was unmoving. There was some strong singing Elisabeth Hornung a gutsy Lisa, and Lena Nordin's sharply focussed soprano as the Princess, with the bright tenor of John Pierce as the minstrel. Florian was the baritone Anton Keremidtchiev, seeming a little underpowered.
Kirsten Harms in Kiel, with the original version, seemed to have a much lighter, and brighter, view of the piece. Designer Bernd Damovsky provided a simple hovel made in pyramid shape from bits of statuary and assorted building junk, on an otherwise bare stage. Subtle lighting gave ample contrast the Prologue's bowler-hats in eerie darkness, through to a seemingly benign red glow at the final curtain. The hovel revolved slowly as the flute played a simple, even naïve, piece of stagecraft, which in the context worked rather well. Strangely, the tragic ending here seemed to have more serenity than the reconciliation in Darmstadt. Here, too, the singing was first rate some familiar faces from the Kiel ensemble included Jörg Sabrowski's strong baritone as Wolf, Florian's erstwhile assistant, and the stentorian bass of Thomas Mayer as Florian himself. The Princess was Julia Henning, a sure, bright, soprano, and Hans-Jürgen Schöplin a ringing minstrel.
The music is echt Schreker, brilliantly scored (as even Julius Korngold had to admit in Vienna), its shifting harmony used more to colourful than structural purpose, and it looks forward to Die Gezeichneten and Der Schatzgräber. The brooding Prelude already has an independent life as a concert piece in Germany. In Darmstadt Stefan Blunier conducted the opening performances in September and by December, when I caught up with it, Raoul Grüneis had taken over, and while the orchestra by then had the piece well under their fingers, there was just a hint of routine. In Kiel, however, Ulrich Windfuhr and his players were relishing the challenge of another Schreker score, and one or two lapses in ensemble were as nothing in the overall shaping of the piece.
I suspect that it will be the original, rather than the second, one-act version which will, if ever, break into the now accepted canon of Schreker operas justifying the considerable commitment by the Franz Schreker Foundation and Universal Edition in preparing the performance material. Musically it seems to have a more satisfying overall design, and is dramatically more logical. But time alone will tell.
Das Spielwerk und die Prinzessin is the third (and probably the last) Schreker rarity that the Kiel Opera has staged. First, in June 2002, came the early Flammen, then in June 2002 Christophorus, or the Vision of an Opera. This piece, too, has an unfortunate history. Schreker began work on it in 1924, and worked on it over the next five or so years, along with Der singende Teufel and Der Schmied von Gent. But during those five years, the operatic landscape in Germany had changed considerably Krenek, Hindemith and Kurt Weill, among others, were now the leading lights, and when Schreker offered the score Universal Edition, it was seen as so out of touch with modern taste that it was turned down. Eventually, the work was accepted for performance in Freiburg, and in Krefeld, in 1932, but as that date approached the political scene, too, changed dramatically, and the productions were cancelled. Schreker died two years later.
Christophorus received its first performance, in Freiburg, in 1978. There has been no staging since, though a concert performance in Vienna in 1991, conducted by Ingo Metzmacher and broadcast on Radio 3 has whetted the appetite. The opera is a far cry from the 'hot-house fantasies' (Alma Mahler's words) that were regularly performed in pre-War Germany, and are the mainstays of the current Schreker revival. The action takes place in the present, opening in a music school where Meister Johann has suggested that his pupils write a string quartet based on the life of St. Christopher. Anselm, though, decides that the subject is better treated as an opera. As he begins work, he becomes so involved with his subject that reality and his imagination begin to blur, so that he himself becomes part of the action. At the end, as a vision of Christopher and his child fade, Anselm takes up his pen again to write a quartet.
In some respects, this is the nearest Schreker came to writing a Zeitoper. The contemporary setting includes a nightclub scene, complete with stage band. The music is sparing and contrapuntal in texture, using a smaller orchestra (though with the luxury of a musical saw!). There is, too, considerable use of spoken dialogue.
Kirsten Harms and Bernd Damovsky were producer and designer, and, as in their Spielwerk, simplicity was the key. Anselm sat at his desk centre stage, with his features projected on a gauze, behind which most of the action took place, eventually drawing him in to take his own part. He was beautifully sung by the American tenor Robert Chafin (singing freelance in Germany in a variety of roles). Christopher was Jorg Sabrowski, and Lisa, the woman whom Anselm loves but who leaves him for Christopher, a touching, vulnerable soprano from Susanne Bernhard. Generalmusikdirektor Ulrich Windfuhr was the conductor, drawing some expressive playing, especially in the many quiet passages.
Both Christophorus and Das Spielwerk und die Prinzessin are due for release on CD, by CPO, continuing their commitment to the Kiel Opera's long established pattern of presenting repertoire lost, forgotten and neglected. It will be fascinating to hear these pieces again, and see how first impressions stand up to scrutiny.
Bloch: Symphony in E flat; Evocations; Trois poèmes juifs Malmö Symphony Orchestra, cond. Andrey Boreyko BIS-CD-1183 (71' 12')
Bloch: Piano Quintets Nos. 1 and 2 Aura Quartet, Hans Joerg Fink (piano) Musiques suisses MDG
Reviewed by Martin Anderson
Andrey Boreyko's CD of Bloch's orchestral music is refreshingly different: he seems to have thought through the music, rejecting old and stodgy stereotypes and presenting the works in a new light. The E flat Symphony of 195455 (premiered by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, as it happens, in 1956) can come across as ponderous and heavy of expression; Boreyko underlines its neo-Classicality (it began life as a third Concerto grosso), keeping the textures clear and the rhythms crisp. Likewise the symphonic suite Evocations of 1937, with its all-pervading pentatony: the opening 'Contemplation', marked Andante moderato, is presented with the delicacy an oriental aquarelle, so that the invasive military tramp of the following movement is all the more effective; the impressionist swell of the closing 'Renouveau-Spring' is beautifully handled, too. The Trois poèmes juifs of 1913 present the Bloch that's best known to the listening public the melismatising Hebraisms of Schelomo married to the orchestral luxuriance of Respighi's Roman trilogy. Indeed, I did wonder how well Bloch might have known Respighi's Pines and checked the dates to find that Bloch's score was composed fourteen years earlier. Both the Symphony and the Trois poèmes juifs can be found on an ASV disc (CD DCA 1019), conducted by Dalia Atlas Sternberg; I find these new interpretations much preferable.
Bloch's two piano quintets, No. 1 from 192123 and No. 2 written in 1957, only two years before his death, are among his best works. No. 1, indeed, I think is a masterpiece: its two outer movements are galvanised by a dark, end-directed energy the finale, indeed, piles tension upon tension in a thrilling push to a climax that sinks into the desolate exhaustion of a bleak coda. Walter Labhart's fine booklet notes quotes Olin Downes to the tune that it was 'the greatest work in its form since the piano quintets of Brahms and César Franck', and he may well have been right. The briefer No. 2 18 minutes to to the 33 of No. 1 is more neo-Classical in manner, an elegant offshoot, especially in its outer movements, of the style that produced Bloch's two Concerto grossi of 192425 and 1952, with a questing central Andante, where he experimented delicately with twelve-note technique. These are first-rate performances, in excellent recordings.
Ernst Toch: String Quartets Nos. 6 and 12, Opp. 12 and 70 Verdi Quartet CPO 999 776-2 (DDD) TT: 65'40"
Reviewed by Steve Schwartz
Ernst Toch was, as they say, a natural. In spite of strong parental opposition, he turned himself into a composer by a remarkable series of self-imposed exercises. Among other things, he taught himself to read music and did manage to get his parents to spring for piano lessons. But they were still set on him to study medicine or law. One day, while window-shopping, he saw a pocket study score of a Mozart string quartet and bought it. He was overwhelmed. To get to know it better, he copied it out in secret, working at night so his parents wouldn't find out. The compact size of the study score made it easier to hide (some boys hide Playboy; Toch hid Mozart). He also noticed that the publication was part of a series of 'Ten Famous String Quartets by Mozart', and he bought another. He began to copy it out but decided as an experiment to take only the first eight bars and then to supply eight more bars of his own. He compared his 'solution' to Mozart's and, in his own words, he was 'crushed'. Mozart's eight were way beyond his. But Toch decided to stick to it, always referring his results to Mozart's and taking the 'correction', learning from the differences. The regimen succeeded. Toch suddenly won a prestigious prize for young composers (he had submitted his entry without his parents' knowledge). Part of the award was formal study. Toch arrived at his teacher's office, excited at the prospect of his first 'real' lesson, only for the professor to tell him, 'I was hoping, if you didn't mind, to study with you'. To the end of his life, Toch took an unorthodox approach to composition. You can get glimpses of it in his book The Shaping Forces of Music, one of the most valuable texts for composers I've yet come across. Most composition texts tell you technique. Toch teaches musical rhetoric.
Musically, Toch came of age in the 1910s and '20s, part of that heady Austro-German mix of Schoenberg, Reger and Mahler. Richard Strauss never seemed to exercise all that much sway over him, as he did, say, over Schrecker and Korngold. That revelatory first encounter with Mozart probably immunised him as well as gave him a love for writing string quartets. From his earliest known works (his first pieces were lost in the chaos of the Holocaust and the modern Jewish diaspora), he exhibits a 'rage for form' and clarity of idea.
We see this in the Sixth Quartet, the earliest to survive, written at age 18. The composer was still in high school. It shows Toch's mastery of the Brahms idiom. It takes not only musical talent but also musical brains to do Brahms. The string-writing is expert, even at this early stage, the textures inventive and surprising without descending into the bizarre, and the young composer's grasp of his musical argument (over, incidentally, over a very long span the four movements take 37 minutes) firm and confident. This score would have done most composers of any age proud. You do see the adolescent in the slow third movement, though not technically, but emotionally. Marked Andante doloroso, it lacks a certain weight of experience, as if the composer doesn't really know what sadness is, and it consequently falls back on certain chromatic tropes of sadness in lieu of the real thing. That demur aside, the quartet impresses on many fronts. For example, the second movement, Andantino amabile, successfully sandwiches a 'gypsy' scherzo between a Brahmsian intermezzo. The scherzo seems to move twice as fast as the intermezzo, but because it's twice as fast, the basic underlying pulse remains unchanged. A wonderful rhythmic ambiguity hovers over the movement, its power due in no small measure to its simplicity. Equally noteworthy is Toch's very early realisation that all four instruments don't have to play all the time. But then, young though he might be, this is his Sixth Quartet. He has the experience of five others behind him.
Chamber music in general and the string quartet in particular run through Toch's output like a spine. They have the same central importance to his other work as Bartók's and Shostakovich's quartet cycles do to their catalogues. Nevertheless, it took Toch nearly twenty years to compose the String Quartet No. 12. Indeed, he suffered from a long-term creative block, arising from his depression, frustration and guilt over his survival during the Holocaust and his failure to get relatives and friends away from the Third Reich. Apparently, this string quartet broke his creative silence, and significantly it appeared in 1946.
Forty years and six quartets later, Toch has moved from astonishing talent to great composer. The technical assurance of 1905 has become strong enough to lead the composer to take considerable risks. Much of this quartet the first movement especially runs to two, occasionally three, parts. At certain points, it strikes the ear as a series of duos. It's leaner and meaner than the earlier work and, as Job says, 'full of trouble'.
The first movement begins with a highly chromatic line in quick notes, functioning, for the most part, as accompaniment and rhythmic motor carrying the music on. It becomes apparent, however, that this chromatic line has considerable thematic importance throughout the movement, even to the point of taking centre-stage. One can't call it an accompaniment any longer. Indeed, much of the quartet takes up with this kind of scurrying figure, often in secondary lines beneath snatches of broader melodies. The prevailing image to me is subsurface rot or termites burrowing under a parquet floor. It imparts a pall over the entire work. In the slow second movement, the writing becomes bleaker and thicker, with odd passages of noble, even radiant chorale breaking in once in a blue moon, kind of like a hope against hope. The third movement ('Pensive Serenade') takes off from the Brahmsian intermezzo. The main theme, considered all by itself, sings graciously 'Viennese-y,' in the words of Ira Gershwin. The supporting harmonies, again in scurrying short notes, are rather queasy, off-balance, and the suave serenade gives way to an acerbic march for the second main idea. The serenade returns without reaching psychic resolution. Toch saves the best for last. The finale begins as an aggressive march, of which the previous movement's march was a mere shadow. I can't say exactly how, but the emotional stakes seem raised, as we seem to revisit old psychic neighbourhoods with more depth. Forty years older, Toch knows what sorrow is, and he also knows that he can't wallow in it. What we get is an heroic perseverance in the face of trouble, without settling for easy, pre-fab transcendence.
Because I like to know what's under the hood, I'll point out certain felicities of composition. Aside from the virtuosic textural variety, Toch's handling of rhythm impressed me no end. The booklet notes indicate that Toch uses odd meters like 11/8, 5/8, 18/16, and so on. Yet one never feels the short unit. Everything proceeds in long, logical phrases. Indeed, if the notes hadn't told me, I doubt I would have cottoned to the metrical games. Also, the ends of the movements offer poetic surprises, without stepping into the shock of the arbitrary. I don't give away surprises if I can help it. You'll have to listen for yourself.
The Verdi Quartet is outstanding. Intonation, balance, artistry over the single line, beauty of tone, architectural smarts, emotional maturity they have it all. I've never heard these pieces played any better. In fact, I've never heard a better performance of any Toch work. They've also recorded Toch's Eighth and Ninth Quartets on cpo 999686. I've already ordered my copy.
One of cpo's best.
Dances from the Heart of Europe: Music by Skalkottas, Haydn, Bartók, Brahms and Komitas I Musici de Montréal, dir. Yuli Turovsky (cello) Chandos CHAN 10094 (DDD) TT: 79'27"
Hayren: music of Tigran Mansurian and Komitas Tigran Mansurian: Havik (1998), Duet for Viola and Percussion (1998) Komitas (adapted by Mansurian): Garun a, Krunk (3 versions), Chinar es, Hov arek, Hoy Nazan, Tsirani tsar, Oror (2 versions), Antuni Kim Kashkashian, viola Robyn Schulkowsky, percussion Tigran Mansurian, piano, voice ECM New Series 1754 461831-2 (DDD) TT: 54'25"
Reviewed by Martin Anderson
The Chandos CD is a refreshing combination of the familiar and the less-well-known. The mainstream stuff consists of Haydn's Twelve German Dances, H.IX:12, Bartók's Romanian Folk Dances in the string arrangement by Arthur Willner (who deserves investigation as a composer in his own right; we've discussed him as a possible object of our attention at the IFSM but don't know where the music is any advice?) and Brahms' Liebeslieder-Walzer, Op. 52, arranged for strings by Friedrich Hermann. But it's the other items here that attracted my interest. The various Greek Dances of the Greek Schoenberg student Nikos Skalkottas were virtually the only works keeping his name before the public before BIS began its enormously valuable documentation of his music. The ones we have here are drawn from the set of 36 Greek Dances, Op. 11, written over the last eighteen years of Skalkottas' brief life (he died in 1949, aged only 45): Set I, Nos. 1, 2 and 4, and Set III, Nos. 3 and 10. But, Willner apart, the IFSM interest in this Chandos CD will be the Ten Armenian Folk Songs and Dances by the Armenian Vardapet Komitas (1869-1935), whose health and spirit were broken by the Turkish genocide of the Armenians in 1915 an episode that is still under-investigated by historians and has not yet impinged with sufficient force on the western view of the past century. These delightful, atmospheric songs and dances were arranged from Komitas's arrangement of the folk originals as Ten Miniatures for string quartet by Sergei Zakharovich Aslamazian (18971978), the cellist of the Komitas Quartet, founded in Moscow in 1924; they're played here by a small string ensemble. They're slight, wistful or jolly by turn, less obviously oriental in flavour than I had expected; one of them, 'Shogher djan', I know from its use by another composer Hovhaness, I think. Given sufficient exposure, this is music that could pull on the affections of the Classic FM crowd. Turovsky's Canadian musicians certainly play it with sparkle. There's one thing odd about this CD, though the title, Dances from the Heart of Europe: since when was Armenia at the heart of Europe?
As for the ECM disc, it's difficult to know whether we're any closer to the real Komitas than with the Aslamazian reworkings: the eleven songs or instrumental pieces here are arrangements by Tigran Mansurian (b. 1939), and I have no point of comparison with Komitas' originals. Basically, they're all miniatures, for any combination of voice, viola, piano and percussion, Mansurian himself supplying vocal and piano parts. The music is basically modal-diatonic, though with the lines inflected along the lines of Armenian folk-music. Mansurian is no singer: his voice is what you'd expect from the village elder it has what is euphemistically called 'a certain charm', but it hardly burns the music into your soul (and it's certainly not for listeners with perfect pitch). Mansurian's wistful Havik and Duet, both for viola and percussion, top and tail the Komitas selection. Kashkashian is, of course, a superb violist, and Robyn Schulkowsky seems to do a splendid job with the percussion; Mansurian is also a better pianist than singer. But this does seem to be one for the cultists.
CD and DVD
Viktor Ullmann: Fremde Passagiere Symphony No. 2 in D (1944); Sechs Lieder, Op. 17 (1937); Don Quixote tanzt Fandango (1944); Symphony No. 1, Von meiner Jugend (1943) Juliane Banse, soprano; Guerzenich Orchestra of the Cologne Philharmonic cond. James Conlon. Capriccio 67017 (DDD) TT: 62'29"
Fremde Passagiere ('Estranged Passengers') In Search of Viktor Ullmann Guerzenich Orchestra of the Cologne Philharmonic/James Conlon. Capriccio DVD (NTSC-Dolby-DVD 5) 93505 TT: 80'00"
Reviewed by Steve Schwartz
Interest in German and Mittel-Europa music from between the world wars has recently grown, with most of the activity settling in on the so-called 'degenerate' or 'suppressed' composers those killed or driven out or in some way silenced by the Third Reich. We have seen a concomitant rise in the number of recorded works by such composers as Zemlinsky, Toch, Schrecker, Krenek, Schulhoff, Hartmann, Korngold, Weill, Eisler and now Ullmann.
Viktor Ullmann, like Eisler, studied with Schoenberg. Also like Eisler, he never became the Compleate Dodecaphonist. Indeed, he probably sounds closer to early tonal Schoenberg and to the European, non-Brechtian Weill (also influenced by Schoenberg) than to anybody else. Richard Strauss and Mahler particularly his grotesque side of the latter composer also lurk in the background. After a respectable career, the Nazis sent Ullmann to Terezín (Theresienstadt) in 1942, and he was gassed in Auschwitz in 1944. He did, however, manage to compose in the camps. Ironically, the work of his last two years is mostly what survives. This output, particularly the opera Der Kaiser von Atlantis ('The Emperor of Atlantis'), re-awoke interest in the composer as part of the general scholarly interest in the art produced by the prisoners of Terezín.
All the works here are, to one extent or another, reconstructions. Bernhard Wulff orchestrated Ullmann's piano sonatas No. 5 and No. 7 to produce the two symphonies. The manuscript clearly shows that Ullmann intended to orchestrate these works. Don Quixote tanzt Fandango ('Don Quixote dances the Fandango') exists in short score, elaborated again by Wulff. The original score to the 6 Lieder of 1937 was for voice and piano. Ullmann intended to orchestrate the songs but never got around to it. The orchestration here was made in 1994 by Geert van Keulen. At least one reviewer has complained that the orchestrations aren't sumptuous enough. I can see the point in the songs, but not in the Terezín works.
Every piece here is extremely well-made, and a vein of poetry runs through besides. I simply don't care for the general idiom and believe it takes someone extra-special, like Weill or Schoenberg, to break through the longueurs. The 6 Lieder show a real understanding of the voice and set the texts without a clumsy stumble or a cheap resort to essentially glorified recitative. But you've only to think of a really great song Mahler's 'Revelge' or Faurá's 'Notre amour', for example to realise that none of Ullmann's songs is particularly memorable. I doubt many will turn off their CD player humming the tunes.
The fancifully titled Don Quixote tanzt Fandango owes a bit to Richard Strauss, particularly to Eulenspiegel, but largely without the vivacity of the model. It does come to life about two-thirds in, when the actual fandango appears, which makes you wonder about all the stuff that went on before.
The 'symphonies' are undoubtedly the best things on the CD. Both have five movements apiece and show the strong influence of Mahler. One might even think of these works as Mahler condensed, and without the transcendence. The fact of the symphonies is triumph enough. The first is an obvious testament of the camp. As concentrated and sharply-detailed as a nightmare, it's filled with extra-musical messages. The first movement quotes 'O du lieber Augustin, alles ist hin' ('O you dear Augustine, everything is over'). Reference to a poem by Karl Kraus, 'Vor dem Schlaf' ('Before Sleep'), heads the second movement 'Nocturne' talking about the uncertainty of the future and the 'sorrowing face' on the wallpaper. So many of the themes bear a resemblance to and have the same obsessive quality of the 'Dies irae.' Ullmann makes art to make sense of what has happened, not only to him, but to those with him. Unfortunately, the work describes mainly a sadistic, hopeless world.
The Second Symphony, according to the booklet notes, is the last work Ullmann completed before being shipped to Auschwitz, where he was killed two days later. The sadness of the First Symphony remains, but here and there light manages to peek through. The first movement is comparatively tender and radiant, with particularly lovely passages for solo violin. But Ullmann still smuggles in his extra-musical hints. A grotesque march quotes the tyrant's theme from Ullmann's musical drama The Fall of the Antichrist. The finale uses a 'Hebrew' folk-song, 'Rachel', as the basis for a set of variations and a perfunctory fugue and also manages to weave in a Hussite song (Ullmann, though born in present-day Poland, considered himself Czech), part of the chorale 'Nun danket alle Gott,' and the BACH motif (B flat-A-C-B natural) perhaps a vision of hope for the healing of Ullmann's culture. For me, the Adagio of the Second Symphony affected me the most powerfully of any of the symphonies' movements, but the fever the insistence that all of this matters running through every movement is enough to lift the works to a level of interest beyond what music alone can give. They become icons and testimony of a time of archetypal evil and unfathomably heroic.
The video released as a pendant to the CD details Ullmann's depressing history and the horrible fate of his children, who escaped the camps but contracted severe mental problems. Along the way, some short pieces are played. James Conlon talks of Ullmann's music in the context of his time. He tries to make a case as to why the music isn't better known and in doing so raises my hackles. It's part of the catechism 'All Schoenberg's fault' catechism because, as usual with those who make the claim, absolutely no evidence other than the anecdotal backs up the assertion. It's as if a student Conlon heard a professor bad-mouthing, say, Korngold in order to raise up Schoenberg (a dubious strategy, by the way), and failed to realise that first, not all professors thought this way, and second, professors aren't the only folks who decide what music gets played and listened to. One of these days, I'd like to see someone try a real history of twentieth-century musical taste one based on primary materials, rather than repeating what somebody else said or selecting evidence to justify a prejudice. The video concludes with, I believe, the CD performance of the Symphony No. 2, to a static visual accompaniment. Why somebody thought this was a good idea, I haven't a clue.
On the other hand, Conlon does a bang-up job on the CD. The performances cement his growing reputation as a specialist of interwar Austro-German post-Romantic music. Not only do the players get the notes, they impart the urgency behind the notes. As I say, even though I don't particularly care for Ullmann's idiom, Conlon makes me care for the music. This is a worthy addition to his Hartmann disc (Capriccio 10893). Juliane Banse, a full-voiced soprano with a mezzo-like timbre sings the very difficult songs with apparent ease and naturalness, but to some extent it's a thankless task. I'd love to hear her sing some Richard Strauss.
Michael H. Kater and Albrecht Riemüller (eds.), Music and Nazism: Art under Tyranny, 19331945 Laaber Verlag 328pp, hardback, ISBN 3-89007-516-9; €49.80
Reviewed by Martin Anderson First published in International Record Review
The study of music under the rule of the Nazis has expanded almost exponentially in recent years. A decade or so ago, you could find only a handful of books dedicated to the subject: Fred K. Prieberg's Musik im NS-Staat (1982, republished 2000), Erik Levi's Music in the Third Reich (1994) and a few more. Now new publications are coming so thick and fast that it is difficult keeping abreast with recent developments in scholarship. Guido Heldt, one of the contributors to this symposium (the fruits of a conference in Toronto in October 1999), may have hit on its fascination when he describes two conflicting attempts to reconstruct Nazi ideology as 'attempts to find a formula for the unbelievable: the stunning fact that Nazism's furious attack on all things enlightened could intoxicate an entire nation'. It still beggars the imagination, and we're still trying to make sense of it.
There are sixteen essays here, preceded by an introduction from one of the two editors of the symposium, the Canada-based German historian Michael H. Kater, author of a trio of studies of music under Nazism Different Drums: Jazz in the Culture of Nazi Germany (1993), The Twisted Muse: Musicians and their Music in the Third Reich (1997) and Composers of the Nazi Era (2000) as well as a number of titles on non-musical aspects of Nazi rule. Kater emphasises the importance of music in Nazi propaganda, both directly as a tool of mass organisation and indirectly in the appropriation of earlier composers as somehow 'quintessentially German', Beethoven, Brahms, Schumann, Bach and, of course, Wagner chief among them. Kater further attributes the tardy examination by German academics of music under the Nazis to 'the occasion brown residue' in German universities in the decades after the Second World War a phenomenon also true of Austria.
Whereas earlier studies, being monographs by single authors, have tended to pass the entire period under review, the advantage of these essays is that each writer tends to zero in on his or her individual topic, often overturning accepted truisms. Thus Hans Rudolg Vaget redefines Hitler's identification with Wagner, tracing the development of the Wagner cult in German writing and political deed, and identifying parallels between events and ideas in Wagner's operas and Hitler's evolving career. Bernd Sponheuer tries to make sense of the Nazis' contention of a specifically 'German' quality in their favoured composers and, unsurprisingly, finds it makes as little sense now as it did then. Reinhold Brinkmann assesses compositions by Johann Nepomuk David, Gottfried Müller (once a Tovey student in Edinburgh) and Hans Ferdinand Schaub against the aesthetic prerequisites of Nazi ideology. Hans Pfitzner is conventionally dismissed as an ardent Nazi, but his outlook was governed by his own twisted worldview, which certainly did have the notion of German cultural hegemony in common with the Party but eventually Jens Malte Fischer has to admit: 'Faced with this ambivalent personality (part absurd, part paranoid), it is extremely difficult to provide a summary'. Pamela M. Potter whose 1998 study of musicology under the Nazis, Most German of the Arts, is a model of what such books should be charts musical life in Berlin from Weimar to Hitler; Guido Heldt documents the treatment of composers in National Socialist cinema; Stephen McClatchie examines the flawed musicology of the Richard-Wagner-Forschungsstätte, established by Hitler in 1938; and so on.
Kim Kowalke's chapter on the relationship between the publishers Schott and Universal and their composers is particularly interesting and succeeds in getting under the camouflage that still obscures what went on. He quotes my obituary of Alfred Schlee, head of Universal during and after the War, published in The Independent in March 1999 and observes, entirely fairly, that I drew entirely on Universal's official press release and histories but even then, half a century later, it was virtually impossible, with newspaper deadlines insisting on speed, to see if the truth might be more checkered. Kowalke's patient researches have now done that, and he concludes that 'it is imperative that we begin the process of shedding light on the dark side of modern music publishing under the Nazis and its continuing influence on contemporary music'. Another especially valuable contribution comes from Austin Clarkson in the form of a biographical study of Stefan Wolpe, whose standing as one of the most essential composers of the twentieth century has yet to be even vaguely acknowledged.
This is, in short, an excellent book, rigorously researched and meticulously edited (I'm in the middle of editing a book of English-language essays by foreign writers so I know the kind of input required for such texts to read as well as they do here). It contains a mass of detail that will be new even to specialists in the subject, and it points the way to all sorts of research agendas. And David Monod's concluding essay on the farce of denazification procedures ought to be photocopied en masse and dropped wholesale over Baghdad, where his tale of official incompetence and nervous self-justification will seem strangely familiar.
Robin Elliott and Gordon E. Smith (eds.), Istvan Anhalt: Pathways and Memory McGill-Queen's University Press, Montreal and Kingston, 2001 ISBN 0-7735-2102-X; xx+475pp
Reviewed by Martin Anderson
Happy the composer who gets this kind of attention and is still around to enjoy it. What we have here is basically a four-part Festschrift dedicated to the life and work of the Budapest-born Canadian composer Istvan Anhalt: biography, essays on his music and his writings and, in part IV, some of Anhalt's own writing.
István (he dropped the diacritical after some years in Canada) Anhalt was born into a Budapest Jewish family in 1919 and studied under Kodály in the Franz Liszt Academy. As a Jew in Horthy's Hungary, Anhalt was familiar with institutional anti-Semitism, but the racial laws became much stricter in 1939 and 1941 as the regime aligned its policies with those of Nazi Germany. Like Ligeti, Anhalt was conscripted into labour-service in December 1942, which meant ten to twelve hours heavy work for six to seven days a week. Meanwhile Eichmann's deportations to Auschwitz had begun, and would ultimately consume almost half a million Hungarian Jews. Anhalt managed twice to escape from his labour unit, the second time disguised as a Salesian priest, and was able to hide out the rest of the War in safe houses. A job as répétiteur in the new opera house was not renewed, probably because Anhalt was not a member of the Communist Party, and he began to think of emigrating. A Zionist organisation got him the papers necessary to leave the country, and in late January 1946 he took the train to Vienna. From there he continued to Germany, and then to Paris like many Hungarian musicians at the time, including Janos Starker, György Sebök and Livia Rev. He spent almost three years there, studying with Nadia Boulanger and Soulima Stravinsky. The Lady Davis Foundation, set up to encourage the immigration of displaced foreign scholars into Canada, then accepted him into their programme and the next major step in Anhalt's life began on 23 January 1949, when he landed at Halifax and made his way to McGill University in Montreal, where an assistant professorship awaited him.
Anhalt had starting composing again almost as soon as he had left Hungary, and now in Canada began experimenting with serial technique. It was his Symphony, written in 195458 and premiered in 1959, that brought him widespread attention; meantime, he also developed an interest in electronic music, setting up an electronic-music studio at McGill in 1964. After 22 years there, he moved to the music department of Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, and taught there until his retirement in 1984.
That tale takes up roughly the first hundred pages in the book. Then come a series of chapters which make one wish the music were better known outside Canada: Robin Elliott on the instrumental solo and chamber music, John Beckwith on the orchestral music, David Keane on the electro-acoustic music and a stylistic overview from William E. Benjamin all copiously illustrated. George Rochberg's tribute to his friend of four decades contains a neat definition of the duty of a composer:
The intensities music embodies [...] must be lived an experienced to be real in those who make them and those who receive them. Our job is to put a little beauty out there in the world. Istvan Anhalt is one of our generation who has made music such a living reality, who has put some beauty into the world.
The 40+ compositions listed in the catalogue at the back it includes four operas underline how much of this beauty still has to gain a wide hearing. This elegant, handsome book can only speed that process.
Elena Fitzthum, ed. Primavera Gruber, 2003: Give Them Music. Musiktherapie am Beispiel Vally Weigl Edition Praesens, Vienna, 2003 Price: €32.00
Reviewed by Matthias Wurz
This German publication is the sixth volume of the scientific series 'Wiener Beiträge zur Musiktherapie' ('Viennese Contributions to Music Therapy') and the second which refers to Vally Weigl, the music therapist and wife of the composer Karl Weigl, Austrian émigrés to the USA. This volume is also of interest beyond the academic cycle of music therapists, since it also examines Vally Weigl, her life and work from the aspect of exile as a consequence of Nazi Rule.
In 'Give Them Music', an article published in the journal Music Therapy in April 1957, Vally Weigl wrote: 'Music has a special impact in filling the needs of those groups of handicapped, who by nature of their impairment, may be compelled to miss many sensual impressions of the world around them and thereby to lead more isolated lives because of it'. Give Them Music, the title of this publication obviously refers to this article, reprinted in full in this volume. The book itself is a collection of papers presented at a symposium at the Herbert-von-Karajan Centrum in Vienna in February 2003, on music therapy in exile. The initial idea came from Orpheus Trust, the Austrian non-profit organisation that documents and researches Austrian victims of Nazi rule in music, and was co-organised by the Wiener Institut für Musiktherapie.
Vally Weigl was born in Vienna in 1894 into a liberal Jewish bourgeois family and educated in Vienna. She studied musicology with Guido Adler, and psychology and philosophy at the University of Vienna. She continued her musical training privately, studying piano with Richard Robert and composition with Karl Weigl, whom she married six years later. After her studies, she initially worked mainly as pianist and music-teacher. In late 1938 Vally Weigl and her husband fled their home country, supported by the Quakers, for the USA; her sister, Käthe Leichter, who was a women-rights campaigner and active social democrat, died in 1942 at the Ravensbrück concentration camp. In her early emigration period, Vally Weigl worked as music (piano) and language teacher and translator. Dramatic developments in her personal life provoked a change in her professional life. First, Karl Weigl died in 1949; he had felt a stranger in America and did not encounter the professional success as composer he had enjoyed in Europe. Second, shortly afterwards, Vally Weigl lost the ability to play the piano as a consequence of a serious accident. The resultant therapy inspired her to take up music therapy professionally. Vally Weigl began to study again and completed her Masters in 1953 at Columbia University. Aged almost 60, she began to work as music therapist in hospitals, research institutes and colleges. In 1982, Vally Weigl died in New York.
Following the symposium, the publication has three main topics. Part I deals with exile. It includes papers on the gender issues in 'exile music' research by Peri Arndt ('Ambivalence of Disruption and Continuity'). This article pursues the question on how women-specific research on the phenomenon of exile can also be transferred into the musical field. In Arndt's opinion, it is necessary to link exile music to gender-specific research, which still is often regarded as a 'sub-category' and not given much attention. As an example, Arndt points out that women often saw much clearer the threat of rising National Socialism; since they often were less engaged in society and concerned with their status, they were able to convince their husbands to seek exile abroad, as was the case with Vally Weigl. The other two papers in this chapter address the history of the Viennese Psychoanalytical Society and how it was used or destroyed by the Nazis (Elisabeth Brainin's 'The Denied Past: Psychoanalysis and National Socialism') or discuss the consequences of the 'academic ruins' in the medical field left over by the National-Socialism (Ernst Berger's 'Expulsion of Reason from Medicine and Psychotherapy').
Part II is entitled 'Biographisches' (Biographical Aspects) and focuses on Vally Weigl's life. The three papers presented here focus on the experiences of exile and the consequences for her own life (Sophie Fettauer's 'Vally Weigl Aspects of a Life in Exile'), the relationship to her younger sister Käthe Leichter by comparing their autobiographical texts ('Käthe Leichter and Vally Weigl. Two Sisters, Two Autobiographical Writings, A Complicated Relationship' by Margit Wolfsberger) and one paper about Vally Weigl's husband, the composer Karl Weigl, and her importance in the administration of his compositional estate after his death ('Karl Weigl Austrian Composer' by Gerlinde Illich). Sophie Fettauer's paper also points at two other aspects of Vally Weigl's later life: her own compositional writings and her political engagement. We learn that before her emigration Vally Weigl hardly composed at all but that, in America, she picked up her pen again. Apart of a number of chamber works, she wrote mainly vocal compositions: songs for single voice and solo or chamber instruments and choral works Chapter IV gives a full list of her compositions. There are no large orchestral compositions or operas among her creative output, which leads to the conclusion that her works were written for specific, small-scale opportunities for performance. Fettauer points out that most of the 180 compositions Vally Weigl wrote in the USA were in the context of music therapy or the Quakers. These are works, therefore, where no experimental or avant-garde compositional techniques are employed.
The third section, 'Musiktherapie', compiles papers of practical applications that relate either directly or indirectly to Vally Weigl's life or work. Alan Solomon's presentation ('Valerie "Vally" Pick Weigl and the American Music Therapy Experience'), the only English article in this volume, highlights her contribution to the music-therapy environment in New York of her time. Elena Fitzthum in her presentation ('The Music Therapist Vally Weigl') describes Vally Weigl as bridge between Austrian/European and American developments in music therapy, based on Vally's biographical background. The question ascribed is, whether music therapy in the USA was influenced by European emigration, or the other way around, since institutionalised music therapy only reached Europe in 1958. One important aspect of Vally Weigl's working method is rhythm, which Fitzthum traces back to Austrian/German rhythm movements of the early twentieth century. As an example, Vally Weigl wrote in an article entitled 'The Handicapped Need Music' (1956): 'Some of the children who hardly could stand on their feet or walk would try to dance or 'practice on parade' if you played an inciting rhythmical dance or march for them; and this in turn encouraged them to practice walking more effectively'. Other papers in this section not yet mentioned are by Hans-Helmut Decker-Voigt ('The Perception Of The Psychological Effects of Artisitic Media as Exemplified in a Few Fantasies Based on Biographical Scenes From Vally Weigl's Life'), Dorothea Oberregelsbacher ('On Leaving And Coming Back Examples Of Clinical Music Therapy Today') and Carl Bergstrom-Nielsen ('Composition and Music Therapy Learning From One Another Form and Content in Music Therapy').
Additional information is provided by a section of personal photographs of Vally Weigl. More important is section IV, 'Materialien', which provides the reader with more sources on her professional life. Among those are reprints of Vally Weigl's original scientific articles 'Give Them Music' (April 1957) and 'The Rhythmic Approach in Music Therapy' (1962), as well as her 'Early Childhood Recollections' and the catalogue of works.
Though this is a medical-based publication series, this volume is an excellent and valuable source-book with valuable insights into Vally Weigl's, set in context of her exile as a consequence of Nazi Rule in Europe. Prerequisite, however, is an excellent command in German, since all but one of the papers is in German and only the titles and abstracts and some of the sources are given in English.
For further information and orders outside Austria or Germany, contact the publisher:
Verlag Edition Praesens
Dmitrii Shostakovich, The Story of a Friendship: The Letters of Dmitry Shostakovich to Isaak Glikman, 19411975 Commentary by Isaak Glikman; trans. Anthony Phillips. Faber, London/Cornell University Press, Ithaca, N.Y., 2001. xliv + 340 pp. Illustrations, notes, and index. $36.00 (cloth) ISBN 0-8014-3979-5.
Reviewed by Lynn Sargeant (lsargean[at]exchange.indiana.edu), Postdoctoral Fellow, National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation First published in H-Russia.
This interesting and valuable book presents one half of the extensive correspondence between one of the most important musical figures of the twentieth century, composer Dmitrii Shostakovich, and his dear friend, Isaak Glikman. The letters span more than three decades, from the beginning of World War II until the composer's death in 1975. In addition to translations of Shostakovich's letters, the volume contains a rich and extended preface and copious annotations, both by Glikman.
Shostakovich's letters range from the banal to the profound. Ironically, this is perhaps the most important service provided by the publication of these letters. Too often, Shostakovich is presented as some kind of saint or martyr of Russian culture, an approach that reduces his complex creative personality to a caricature. Instead, in these letters we see both Shostakovich the man, sending birthday and holiday greetings, coping with the stresses of domestic life, battling both illness and hypochondria, and enjoying the company and emotional closeness of good friends, and Shostakovich the composer, at various points elated by success, afraid that his creativity has run out, and frustrated by the limits of Soviet cultural orthodoxy. Throughout the letters, the constant thread is the importance of his personal relationship to Glikman as friend, confidante, and colleague.
Although Glikman's letters to Shostakovich are lost, the preface provides a necessary introduction to the two friends' relationship. Glikman, with good humour and insight, reveals his early hero-worship of the composer. That Glikman devotedly preserved Shostakovich's letters to him reveals something of the intensity with which Glikman pursued this relationship. Nevertheless, as their friendship deepened, and as time passed, Glikman was able to see beyond the 'great composer' to the human being. His reverence for the composer and his work, as well as his friendship for the man, does tend to skew Glikman's presentation of the letters and the tone of the preface. This is not an analytical work, for all its value to the scholarly community. Rather, it is a monument to Shostakovich by a bereaved and deeply loving friend.
In addition to the preface, Glikman's voice emerges strongly in the notes and two short appendices. His copious annotations to Shostakovich's letters (representing nearly a third of the volume) sometimes border on the ridiculous, as he feels compelled to comment on every conceivable question and nuance of Soviet life for the reader. Many of the annotations, however, do provide substantial insight into Shostakovich's personal life and the Soviet cultural milieu. It is worth the effort to read the more banal comments in order to avoid missing those that are more profound. By revealing Glikman's own personality more completely, the notes prove invaluable in interpreting the relationship between the two friends. The appendices include four short satirical songs (with text in Russian and English) and an essay, 'On the Article "Muddle Instead of Music", and Other Matters,' all by Glikman. The translation is unobtrusive and often elegant. Great care has been taken to preserve, as much as possible, the 'feel' of personal correspondence, even where this necessitates literal translation of Russian salutations and closings that have no English equivalents.
As a whole, the book is a valuable contribution to the literature on Russian and Soviet musical culture. For specialists on Russian music, the volume provides access to an important set of correspondence by the composer, as well as new insights into his personality and relationships. The volume's greatest value, perhaps, is in its accessibility to a wide range of nonspecialists. Russian scholars and graduate students in a variety of disciplines would benefit from this intimate presentation of Soviet cultural life, as would general readers. Musicians and musicologists interested in Russian music but lacking Russian language skills will find the book especially valuable in providing relatively direct access to the composer's thoughts and ideas on his own work and life. Although the book is not appropriate for classroom use in its entirety, it could be excerpted fruitfully as primary source material on Soviet cultural politics for history or political science classes at the university level.
[Copyright 2003 by H-Net, all rights reserved. H-Net permits the redistribution and reprinting of this work for nonprofit, educational purposes, with full and accurate attribution to the author, web location, date of publication, originating list, and H-Net: Humanities & Social Sciences Online. For other uses contact the Reviews editorial staff: hbooks[at]mail.h-net.msu.edu.]
Fred K. Prieberg, Musik im NS-Staat Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, 1982
Reviewed by Hans W. Freyhan This review was written c. 1982 for the Association of Jewish Refugees Information by the late Hans Freyhan, a Hitlerflüchtling to Britain who was himself the subject of an article in the last IFSM Newsletter (No. 5).
Like other aspects of the Third Reich, its cultural life has been the subject of a good deal of research, facilitated by the abundance of documentation. In the field of music, pioneer work had been done by Joseph Wulf in his Musik im Dritten Reich (1963). His findings have now been substantially enlarged and supplemented in Fred K. Prieberg's Musik im NS-Staat (Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag; 1982; DM 19.80). The author, born in Berlin in 1928, had already published studies on Musik in der Sowjet Union and Musik im anderen Deutschland, which may be considered a useful preparation for the task he has now undertaken. His preparatory research has extended over several years and has included correspondence and interviews with surviving musicians Nazis and non-Nazis of the 193345 period. All this material has been carefully documented and will thus become a valuable source for future studies.
The author's approach is not always consequential. He tends to mete out harsh judgment of minor offences, oblivious, perhaps, of the fact that nationalism in music is not necessarily to be condemned. It is not lImited to Nazis but exists in most countries such as Russia, France and Britain. His views are to some extent determined by his keen interest in modern trends, and this leads him to be tolerant of a few Nazi composers.
The overall picture reveals that the Nazis' chief priority was the complete and uncompromising elimination of Jewish composers and performers from German musical life. The Nazi attitude was more oscillating with regard to modernism which found some support among the Hitler Youth, in opposition to reactionaries like Rosenberg. Apart from its racial policy the NS regime was not as totalitarian as is often assumed. Even so, there was an appalling number of converts to Nazism in and after 1933. Anyone familiar with the prevailing mental climate during the years of the Weimar Republic will hardly be surprised when registering the general response to January 1933. Many simply jumped on the bandwaggon to further their career, but much of the shocking reaction by people who, until then, had hardly shown any Nazi leanings, was due to the state of intoxication which gripped the nation in spring 1933 and accounts for the surrender of many who had played an honourable part in the Republic and now became turncoats, to the distress of former friends and admirers. It took an uncommon degree of courage and inner steadfastness to resist temptation and retain a balanced mind amid the general wave of enthusiasm. Later events, such as the bloodbath of June 1934 failed to act as eye-openers, and the regime's subsequent successes in foreign policy prevented any growth of critical insight and forebodings of what the future might hold.
One of the book's chief assets is the chapter 'Musik unterm Davidsstern' which surveys the work of the Jewish Kulturbünde and similar organisations that catered for Jewish musicians and their public.
We know little about the motives which caused Goebbels to permit and encourage these activities. Hans Hinkel, an SS Officer, was put in charge and played a part which was not altogether negative.
At the beginning it suited the Nazis to claim that although they had excluded the Jews from German cultural life they did offer them the opportunity to pursue their own cultural life. This policy was intended to improve the regime's image abroad but it hardly agreed with the basic intent to promote Jewish emigration as much as possible. As is well known, the Kulturbund was forced to continue its performances even after the November pogrom in 1938, and artists who were required were released from the camps.
It is one of those cases where there was no unanimity among the Nazi leadership, and with hindsight it seems strange that the ultimate murderous intent did not exclude this less barbaric episode from playing its part, probably chiefly for reasons of propaganda.
The Jewish response to these opportunities was a credit to the hard-tried community. Many of our readers will have lively memories of these musical events and will appreciate Prieberg's highly sympathetic survey of the scene, extending even to the private concerts (Hauskonzerte) which supplemented the work of the larger organisations.
Programme-building was controversial and the rivalling claims for Jewish content and for traditional European fare were passionately debated. What emerged was a reasonable balance which proved acceptable to the Jewish public.
Khachaturyan Written by Bill Van Horn and Solomon Volkov Produced by Peter Rosen
Reviewed by Louis Blois
Aram Khachaturyan's name invariably suggests images of sabre-wielding dancers and rows of bucolic maidens swaying to the hypnotic rhythms of Armenian-inflected melodies. He is not usually thought of as one of the victims of the Soviet regime's lethally oppressive policies on the arts. The new documentary film, Khachaturyan (2003), directed by award-winning television producer, Peter Rosen, with a script by Bill Van Horn and Solomon Volkov, may change that image. Rosen's film, whose release coincides with the centenary of Khachaturyan's birth, examines all aspects of the composer's life: musical, personal and political. But it is within the latter category that we find the most surprising revelations.
Khachaturyan alternates interviews and archival film clips that chronicle the life of one of the Soviet Union's most popular composers. We are treated to glimpses of his two outstanding ballets in spectacular full production, Gayaneh, arguably the greatest folk-inspired ballet in the repertory, and the heroic, comparably extravagant Spartacus. We also see concert performances of his equally successful concertante works played by leading interpreters such as the late David Oistrakh, Mstislav Rostropovich, and even Khachaturyan himself, conducting his own epic Symphony No. 2, The Bell. There is also file footage of Soviet music's other historic luminaries: Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Myaskovsky, Gliere, etc. These images are threaded together by a series of recent interviews with prominent figures in Russian music, including Khachaturyan family members (his son Emin, the noted conductor, and nephew Karen, the composer). They offer fascinating insights into the man, his music, and in particular the dark intrigues behind artistic life under an unpredictable dictatorship. Because of the extensive ground the film covers, every episode in its all-too-brief 84 minutes leaves the viewer wanting more.
The observations about Khachaturyan's music made by contemporary Armenian composers are of particular interest. Those who follow Armenian concert music may be intrigued to see some of its leading composers, some of them elder statesmen, on film: Eduard Mirzoyan, Konstantin Orbelyan, Alexander Arutiunyan, Arno Babajanyan, Loris Tjeknavorian and others. They speak admiringly of the freshness of the ideas in Khachaturyan's First Symphony, his graduation work from the Moscow Conservatory. They point to the close bond between his music and Armenian folk music, pointing out at one juncture the popular Transcaucasian song that, in modified form, makes up the main theme of the slow movement of the Piano Concerto. Another composer discusses the unique quality of Khachaturayn's music. It is mentioned that, often, when the rhythmic element of music predominates, melodic growth suffers, and when the melodic element predominates, rhythm recedes into the background. Khachaturyan's music, it is pointed out, has the rare virtue of being blessed with both rhythmic and melodic strength in equal and independent measure.
In another segment we are told a melodramatic version of how Khachaturyan's signature piece came to be written. It was the night before the premiere of Gayaneh, so the story goes, and the score was complete but for one number. We see the fingers of the composer rhythmically drumming on a blank score waiting for inspiration. And then out of the composer's solitary night it comes, Sabre Dance! Whether this is Khachaturyan's or Rosen's version of events remains unclear, but it does strain credulity, to say the least.
The film opens with footage of Khachaturyan's elaborate, well-attended, public funeral with open casket (his dates are 1903 to 1978). The narration (spoken in English by Eric Bogosian) assumes the persona of Khachaturyan commenting on his own life and the spectacle of his own funeral ceremony. Though the film claims to be based on the composer's personal memoirs, a certain amount of poetic license was obviously taken. Relevant to that, we are not five minutes into the film before its most controversial moment occurs. The narrator, as Khachaturyan, comments on the irony of Tikhon Khrennikov delivering the eulogy at his funeral. Khrennikov, the voice declares, is the man who 30 years earlier 'stabbed me in the back', and who is subsequently repeatedly described to as 'my betrayer'.
The backstabbing event referred to, which took place 30 years before Khachaturyan's death, was a watershed in the history of Soviet music. In 1948, the major composers of the day, Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Khachaturyan and others, were summoned to a plenary session in Moscow and officially reprimanded for what Stalin and his cronies perceived as their creative shortfalls. The man designated to deliver the disparaging speech to the distinguished gathering was none other than a composer from their own ranks, Tikhon Khrennikov. Khrennnikov was given administrative clout and for many years served, rather precariously, as an intermediary between his creative colleagues and his political bosses. The manner in which Khrennikov dealt with this obvious opportunity for personal advancement while balancing the inevitable compassion he must have felt for his colleagues has made him a controversial and oft-maligned figure till this day.
In a revealing interview seen later on in the film, Khrennnikov admits that reading that statement at the 1948 plenary session was 'the worst tragedy of my life'. In words worthy of consideration and reconsideration, Khrennikov goes on to explain that he was ushered into the administrative position by Stalin himself. Thus his reading of the script on that fateful day was obedience to a command he could only refuse by possible forfeiture of his life. That fact must have been well understood by those who sat in his audience in 1948. We know that Shostakovich, after all, was forced to publicly read the most ridiculous, self-deprecating scripts that were provided him. Indeed, it was a time of no escape. This bind throws into question Khachaturyan's imagined posthumous denigration of Khrennikov, as written by Van Horn and Volkov. Volkov also appears in an on-camera interview and offers a number of pithy observations about the politics of the time. Volkov is a noted writer on Russian culture whose publications include Testimony, the controversial memoirs of Dmitri Shostakovich, and St Petersburg.
The proclamations of 1948 dared not be taken lightly, not at a time when mass executions of loyal communists who had for one reason or another fallen into disfavour were commonplace. Human life was so little regarded and terror remained the leadership's principal means of control. The degree to which lives and careers, in music as well as the other arts, were derailed and even destroyed has yet to be fully evaluated. Shostakovich's ordeal is perhaps the best known in the West. According to the film, Gavril Popov, another one of the accused, was driven to alcoholism that severely compromised his health and creativity. Rostropovich, in his interview, states surprisingly that Prokofiev had the mind of a child and never fully understood the seriousness of the matter. Prokofiev may have had a self-absorbed, aristocratic manner. But he was hardly as simple-minded as Rostropovich seems to suggest.
Khachaturyan, we learn, suffered enormously from the rebukes, perhaps because of his creative collapse, more than either Shostakovich or Prokofiev. Curiously, he speaks of being regarded differently from his colleagues by Stalin. The benign smile that only he would receive from the Leader was due, he speculates, to their common origins from the Caucasus peasantry. He seems not to have been so fearful of his life or of being taken away in the middle of the night, as was Shostakovich. It was rather his demonisation as a noted figure, his alienation from the public with which he so strongly identified, that caused Khachaturyan to fall so deeply into a depression that caused composer's block. Rostropovich tells the camera that Khachaturyan lamented to him something to the effect, 'how far I could have gone in music had those sons of bitches not stopped me in 1948'.
Khachaturyan's statement beggars understanding. Exactly what did he imply by lamenting 'how far' his music could have gone? His work generally shuns the psychological depths of Shostakovich's. Nor do we find in it the slightest flirtation with anything resembling the avant garde. Perhaps Khachaturyan was planning to write, but never did, another folk-derived ballet to match the passion and intensity of Gayaneh. The specific manner in which his creativity was derailed by the political climate awaits a full investigation.
The ordeal is not without its moments of irony. During the period of Khachaturyan's post-1948 'rehabilitation', he was dispatched to Armenia to become re-educated by the public and re-acquainted with his roots. There, the disgraced composer attended a showing of the film Pepo. We hear the voice over, as Khachaturyan, commenting on the sardonic paradox of the music being praised by members of the audience, who evidently were unaware that he, Khachaturyan, was the composer of the score.
The ballet Spartacus is the work that resuscitated Khachaturyan's slumped creative spirits. In style and inspiration, it matches the extravagance of Gayaneh, but with a focus on tragic and heroic elements. From across the centuries Khachaturyan felt a personal identification with the ancient Roman hero, almost as if he were a fellow warrior likewise defiant in the face of adversity.
There are touching moments in the film, such as when Khachaturyan, through the narrator, relates his strong feelings upon first seeing his future wife, Nina Makarova, walk into music class. We later see the heartbreak on his face at the time of her death. We also see the aged Khachaturyan returning to his beloved Armenia, trying to anonymously blend in with the old people in a public park. We also see glimpses of the ailing composer on his deathbed. The film ends with the sun setting on Khachaturyan's stately grave in Erevan, Armenia.
In addition to giving us a bird's eye view of the life of one of the twentieth century's most colourful musical personalities, Peter Rosen's film portrays Khachaturyan as a flesh-and-blood human being as we have never seen him. For devotees of Khachaturyan's music or of the music of the Soviet era, the film is a must-see.
Received for Review
The following items have been received for review in this newsletter; a listing here does not preclude a review in a subsequent issue
Schreker, Complete Songs for Voice and Piano, Vol. 2: Drei Lider von Vincenz Zusner (1899) Zwei lyrische Gesänge (1923); Ave Maria (two settings: 1902 and 1909); Und wie mag die Liebe (1919); Lied der Fiorina (1896); Waldeinsamkeit (1897); Überwunden (1897); Die glühende Krone, eine Ballade aus 'Der ferne Klang' (19039; arr. Berg); Entführung (1909); Das feurige Männlein (1915); Fünf Gesänge für tiefe Stimme (1909) Sibylle Ehlert (soprano), Anne Buter (mezzo-soprano), Jochen Kupfer (baritone), Reinild Mees (piano), Channel Classics CCS 14398
Tom Adler and Anika Scott, Lost to the World, Xlibris, 2002
Annette Moreau, Emanuel Feuermann, Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 2002
Michael Walter, Hitler in der Oper: Deutsches Musikleben 19191945, Verlag J. B. Metzler, Stuttgart and Weimar, 2000 (reprint)
Links to External Reviews
Viktor Ullmann, Symphonies Nos. 1 and 2; Overture: Don Juan tänzt Fandango; 6 Lieder / Kölner Philharmoniker, cond. James Conlon, Capricciomusicweb.uk.net
A production of Prokofiev's Semyon Kotko in New York is reviewed at nytimes.com.
Tom Adler and Anika Scott's book Lost to the World, which details Tom Adler's battle to recover for the family (he is Guido Adler's grandson) a Mahler manuscript stolen during the Second World War, is reviewed at chicago-mahlerites.org.
Walter Taussig by Anne Midgette First published in The New York Times on 2 August 2003
Walter Taussig, a vocal coach and conductor who prepared generations of singers for their roles at the Metropolitan Opera, the Salzburg Festival and elsewhere, died on Thursday in Manhattan. He was 95.
Coaches are the unseen motors of the opera house, conduits of invaluable musical knowledge, but visible to the audience only in reflection, in the performances of the singers they work with. Mr Taussig was involved in the genesis of many notable performances, from Birgit Nilsson's Elektra to Plácido Domingo's Parsifal. 'I am the phantom of the opera,' he said in an interview in 1996.
If the audience could not appreciate Mr Taussig's behind-the-scenes role, the singers certainly could. In a 1998 interview Birgit Nilsson recalled a letter she had written to Mr Taussig's wife, Lore, whom he married in 1942. 'Dear Mrs Taussig,' the letter read. 'I have a confession to make. I have had a child with your husband. She is very beautiful, and I call her "Elektra". I am absolutely sure he is the father, because I have not been with anybody else.'
Indeed, she had not. Unlike many coaches who prefer singers to master the basics of a role before coming to them for fine-tuning, Mr Taussig liked to start from scratch. So Ms Nilsson began Elektra cold. She said that she learned the whole thing in 18 hours of hard work.
Mr Taussig arrived at the Met in 1949 armed with experience and musical tradition. Born in Vienna on 9 Februaary 1908, he studied at Music Academy in Vienna, working on harmony, composition and piano with Franz Schmidt, the composer, and conducting with Robert Heger. He also studied the oboe. His musical idols included Richard Strauss, whom he venerated as a conductor, and Arturo Toscanini, whose Verdi Requiem he once cited as one of the greatest musical experiences of his life.
After graduating in 1928, Mr Taussig worked as a conductor and coach in a number of theaters, from Finland through Germany and even to Istanbul, but Vienna remained home base. However, the climate in the German-speaking world was not healthy for a Jewish conductor, even one who had been baptised as a Lutheran as a safeguard, and Mr Taussig ultimately crossed the Atlantic, conducting the Havana Philharmonic (where he was succeeded by Erich Kleiber). He then worked at the Montreal Opera, the Chicago Opera and the San Francisco Opera. He also had a daughter, Lynn, who, along with his wife, survives him.
After 1949, when he became its assistant chorus master, the Metropolitan Opera was his main employer. He went on to the post of associate conductor (and was so often responsible for leading off-stage instrumentalists there that James Levine christened them the Taussig Philharmonic).
For eighteen years, starting in 1964, he was also an assistant conductor at the Salzburg Festival, working with long-time friends and colleagues Herbert von Karajan and Karl Böhm. He was also a coach for the record company Deutsche Grammophon.
Unlike many participants in singing's golden age, Mr Taussig, who remained active at the Met through the 20012 season, was positive about the current state of singing. 'The average American singer today is better educated vocally and musically than the average singer I worked with in the old days,' he said in 1996. As an example, he offered the Italian bass Ezio Pinza, who, he said, 'could hardly read music!' 'There are two theories about old people,' he said at his 90th-birthday party in 1998. 'One is that old people should move aside to make way for the young, which is a very valid theory. The other is that old people have valuable experience that cannot be replaced. Fortunately for me, the Met has clung to the second theory.'
V. Academic Activities
Abstract: Political Ideology and the Change of Personal Identities in the 20th Century the Polish-French Composer Alexandre Tansman, 18971986
By Andrea H. Brill (contact: andrea_brill[at]web.de)
This study is concerned about the influence of political ideology and political power on subjectivity. Much is written and said about the consequences of World War II and the Holocaust towards human beings and especially towards its victims. But it is interesting to see how the identity of a Jew developed and changed during the decades before and after World War II, how the Fascist or, better, Nazi ideology influenced the identity of a Jew. Alexandre Tansman (18971986), a Jewish composer who was born in the Polish town _ód_ and who went in 1919 to Paris in order to start a career as conductor, pianist and composer, described himself as agnostic and educated in liberal tradition. But a deeper look inside his biographical sources like letters, diary or memories and his music show a different picture. He didn't change from being a secular Jew to a religious or perhaps an orthodox one; instead, he underwent merely a shift from ignoring his Jewish heritage to being interested deeply in this tradition. Anti-Semitism and persecution by the Nazis during the 1930s and '40s in Europe enforced his self-consciousness as a Jew. This could be seen on the one hand in his musical Ouvre and on the other in his letters or other writings. Before 1933 there is no hint for a Jewish topic within one of his symphonies, string quartets or songs. In 1933 with Hitler already in power in Germany Tansman composed Chants hébraïques, songs inspired by a Jewish-Yemenite woman and in 1935 the Rapsodie hébraïque for piano. During his exile in Los Angeles, from 1941 to 1946, and especially after World War II, he composed more and more music with Jewish topics within a wider frame of religious, political or historical contexts. These works include various kinds of musical forms like operas, oratorios or piano pieces. Of special interest are the works which are concerned directly with the persecution of the Jews during the Nazi era. Tansman wrote in 194950 the oratorio Isaïe le prophète for soli, choir and orchestra. It is based on biblical texts from Isaiah. He chose certain phrases from the Biblical original which could be interpreted without doubt as scenes of the Holocaust. Another work, from the 1960s, is a song with verses from Rachel Waldmann, a Jewish writer who died in Auschwitz. It's also astonishing that an agnostic set Jewishliturgical texts like 'Kol Nidrei' and 'Ma tovu' into music. Both works were composed during Tansman's exile in 194546. One could suppose that the deep crisis in which many of his co-religious people were persecuted and died in the concentration camps he felt more solidarity with them in composing music deeply connected with his Jewish heritage.
Tansman's biographical sources confirm this shift towards Jewish self-consciousness. In 1941 he was in correspondence with the French musicologist Edouard Ganche. In these letters Tansman wrote about a certain distance to his Jewish tradition. He felt more French than Jewish. But he also defended himself against various provocations of Ganche, who articulated a certain anti-Semitic view. In this year Tansman experienced anti-Semitism directly and survived a deep crisis in Nice during his waiting for the necessary papers to emigrate to the USA. I think that this year from summer 1940 to autumn 1941 was like a caesura in his life. It was not only the anti-Semitism of a friend, of clients or of the Nazis in general but it was also the direct threatening of his life and his young family by the political forces. Other letters from later times like one to the great Rabbi in Paris in 1967 or to his friend Igor Stravinsky in 1953 show a deep connection of the composer to his Jewish heritage. He could complain about criticism of Israel (letter to the Rabbi) and yet still be annoyed by a text which Stravinsky chose for a work and which was in Tansman's view anti-Semitic. From special interest in the context of Jewish identity is of course Tansman's views about Israel. In his memories is shown a certain distance and disappointment of the Israeli music scene. Actually he demonstrates only that he expected more interest from Israelis in his work. That means that Israel and her music scene was important for him. This interest in Israel is also shown in some letters to his daughters from a long trip to the Holy Land in 1958. In these letters he wrote about his deep love to this country and its people.
These few examples illustrate the growing Jewish identity of an assimilated and acculturated Jew who lived during the 20th century, a time which was embossed by extreme political ideologies and power. Tansman is an archetype for a Jew who found back to his Jewish heritage through persecution, anti-Semitism and threats to his life. This notion doesn't exculpate Nazism for its terror; indeed, it demonstrates the absurdity of this political ideology.
The German-American music publisher Peer Music has taken a number of work by Mieczyslaw Weinberg into its catalogue. Details at peermusic-classical.de
A website devoted to Stefan Wolpe and his music can be found at wolpe.org
There's a remarkable article, 'Guitar in the GULag: Guitar Music by Matvei Pavlov-Azancheev, 18881963' to be found at freeweb.dnet.it
Another excellent article, 'Józef Koffler: The First Polish Composer of Twelve-Tone Music' in The Polish Music Journal online, at usc.edu
The New York Times ran an article on the 'industry' making documentaries on the Holocaust: click here
Another New York Times article assessed the standing of Hanns Eisler on the occasion of a festival of his music: click here
An article on Georg Tintner by David Patricks Stearns appear in The Philadelphia Enquirer on 17 August: click here
A fascinating article by Albrecht Gaub on Karl Steiner, an enthusiastic promoter of the Second Viennese School forced into exile in Canada, can be found at utoronto.ca
Norman Lebrecht on enforced diversity at scena.org
There's a website that accompanies the exhibition ‚Schoenberg, Kandinsky, and the Blue Rider' now at The Jewish Museum in New York (24 October 200312 February 2004.) It is inventively interactive and features reproductions of paintings by Schoenberg and Kandinsky, programmes of contemporaneous performances, and short sound files of Schoenberg's music: click here
The New York Times for 24 October 2003 featured two articles about this exhibition.
|The Jewish Music Institute is an independent Arts organisation based at SOAS, University of London. It is an international focus bringing the ancient yet contemporary musical culture of the Jews to the mainstream British cultural, academic and social life. Its programmes of education, performance and information highlight many aspects of Jewish music throughout the ages and across the globe for people of all ages, backgrounds and cultures.|