Music from Mahler to 1933, 2023
This Week in Classical Music: January 9, 2023. German and Austrian (Jewish) Music from Mahler to 1933. Since a few month in the past, after we revealed an entry devoted to the Austrian Jewish composer Ernst Toch, we’ve been preoccupied with that tragic however remarkably fecund interval of European artwork of the interval. We should give credit score to Michael Haas, whose e-book Forbidden Music and his eponymous weblog have guided us in our search. Haas brilliantly explores the historical past of Austro-Hungarian and German Jewry beginning with the Congress of Vienna in 1814 by means of the midcentury and Wagner’s antisemitism; the Austrian Structure of 1867 proclaimed by the emperor Franz Joseph I, which emancipated the Jews of a lot of the Empire and helped to liberate the abilities of the nation’s Jewry, particularly in arts; the underlying antisemitism of the society and first antisemitic political actions, comparatively innocuous again then however ultimately murderous and later catastrophic; the issues of the German minority of the Empire, and a lot extra.
For the Jews, the best way to turn into accepted in society, formally free however virtually nonetheless antisemitic, was by means of the humanities, particularly music. The flourishing that adopted was fairly unprecedented. We’re not even speaking in regards to the performing artists or conducting, the place Jewish musicians got here to occupy very outstanding positions – we’re specializing in the composers who modified the music scene of the German-speaking world. Gustav Mahler, born in 1860, was the oldest of this group. Alexander von Zemlinsky, who fell in love with Alma Schindler earlier than Mahler satisfied her to marry him, was 11 years youthful however nonetheless one of the vital celebrated composers of the yearly 20th century, proper there after Mahler and Richard Strauss (Strauss, born in 1864, wasn’t Jewish). Arnold Schoenberg, who modified the best way we hearken to music and even what we think about music, was born in 1874 (it’s possible you’ll wish to examine our three entries right here, right here, and right here). Franz Schreker, for some time extra well-known than the entire above, was the most well-liked opera composer in Austria and Germany. He was born in 1878.
Then there have been three composers who’re virtually forgotten nowadays. Who remembers Karl Weigl, although his music was praised by Mahler, Schoenberg, and Strauss? Weigl was born in 1881. Egon Wellesz, born in 1885, was one of the vital profitable pupils of Arnold Schoenberg: his music was revealed by Common Version, essentially the most prestigious music publishing home in Europe, earlier than Berg’s or Webern’s. He was additionally a famous scholar of Byzantine music. Ernst Toch, to whom we devoted a latest entry, was born in 1887; his music was admired by Mahler and broadly carried out, until the Nazis banned it after assuming energy.
Erich Wolfgang Korngold, an incredible youngster prodigy (many in contrast him to Mozart), was born in 1897 and wrote a ballet (Der Schneemann) on the age of 11, earlier than the a lot older Zemlinksy composed the majority of his work. Korngold grew to become one of the vital celebrated (and wealthy) composers of the time. Hanns Eisler, additionally Schoenberg’s pupil, was born in 1898 and have become well-known for his communist sympathies and for composing the nationwide hymn of the German Democratic Republic. And Berthold Goldschmidt, the youngest of this group, was born in 1903. Franz Schreker’s pupil and a profitable composer, he was thought-about by many to be the brightest star of his era.
By 1933, when the Nazis took energy, Mahler had been useless for 22 years, however all people else’s careers and private lives had been brutally upended. Their music was declared “degenerate,” and their livelihoods destroyed. Franz Schreker suffered a stroke in December of 1933 and died three months later. All people else was pressured to to migrate. Most of them by no means regained the celebrity that they had in Europe. We’ll discuss in regards to the aftermath of the Nazi takeover and hearken to among the music in our subsequent publish.