Entartete Musik (I) – Degenerate Art

     The word ‘Entartete’ was firstly used by Cesare Lombroso in 19th century, who was the doctor and criminologist, to be able to define a moral and spiritual defect. The term later assimilated by the Nazis during the 1920s. They used this term for atonal music, jazz and all works of Jewish composers because according to Hitler, modern culture was including signs of national decline. During Nazi Germany (Third Reich), all new music styles were labeled as ‘degenerate’ with the composers who composed and also developed atonal and jazz music. These composers were assumed politically and racially opponent to the regime which starting with the Nazis.

     In Munich in 1937, ‘Entartete Kunst’ (Degenerate Art) exhibition was generated and the following year in Düsseldorf arranged in connection with the first ‘National Music Days’ (Reichsmusiktage). In the exhibition, there were portraits of composer, who supposed degenerate), with the slogans which insulting the character and racial origin of composers. Besides all of these, their recordings were played in the middle of exhibition hall thus, public could hear the music which were humiliated by the regime.  Works, articles, compositions and scores of these composers were defamed in modern music journals ‘Melos and Anbruch’ and in jazz books.

     Hans Severus Ziegler, the director of the Weimar National Theatre, published provocative leaflet entitled ‘Entartete Musik-eine Abrechmung’. This leaflet was the supplement for the exhibition and containing insults to the composers, especially Jewish. However, this did not attract attention as much as ‘Entartete Kunst’. The ‘Entartete Musik’ exhibition caused contention in the musical area and Peter Raabe, the president of the Reichmusikkammer, did not approve distinctly. Later Ziegler carried the exhibition to Weimar, nonetheless, it did not take enough attention in other German cities.

     In 1988, fifty years after this discrimination, the musicologist and impresario Peter Girth arranged the ‘Entartete Musik’ exhibition anew in Düsseldorf. The aim was to show later generations how the attitude was to the composers and Jewish. The exhibition was displayed many countries in the world and Decca, record company, published Entartete Musik series and dedicated them to the work of composers who prohibited by the Nazis.

Entartete Musik Composers

  • Arnold Schoenberg
  • Franz Schreker
  • Walter Braunfels
  • Erich Wolfgang Korngold
  • Kurt Weill
  • Paul Hindemith
  • Gustav Mahler
  • David Nowakowsky
  • Igor Stravinsky
  • Berthold Goldschmidt
  • Ernst Krenek
  • Anton Webern
  • Hans Eisler
  • Ernst Toch
  • Karl Amadeus Hartmann
  • Erwin Schuloff
  • Boris Blacher
  • Adolf Weissmann
  • Viktor Ullmann
  • Hermann Reutter


  • žwww.oxfordmusiconline.com/Entartetemusik

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