Entartete Musik (XII) – General View

Entartete Musik or Degenerate Music was so attractive for me from the very beginning to the end, that I researched on  this subject with pleasure. In my opinion, knowing this subject is important, because in musical life there are not just good things, unfortunately. With Entartete Musik, I learned dark sides of the music history. In addition to this, I learnt some information about composers whom I did not know before. Likewise, through the end of my research, I analyzed some viola pieces and this assisted me very much that now I have a huge knowledge about the viola repertory’s compositions. Because that I play viola, these analyses supported me in advantageous way. In this research, I handled Degenerate Music Composers and examined their life and compositions because I wanted to know under which conditions they sustained their life and wrote their compositions. I encountered with very awful situations and points.

Entartete Musik is a term that was used by the Nazis to insult the composers who written against their expectations. This term emerged with the rise of the Nazi regime and continued until the end of the World War II. Owing to this regime, many valuable composers like Hindemith, Webern, Schreker and Krenek, who rose in Germany, were forced to leave their country or to live under bad conditions in their homeland. Their compositions were banned from both radio broadcast and public performance. In addition to this, they were blacklisted and in Entartete Music Exhibition they were insulted brutally. Their crime was being modernist composers. However, in our contemporary life, these events were not forgotten and its repercussions still continue.

When all these are considered, as my view, each musician should have knowledge about this issue because it is related with the recent past. In addition to this, with knowledge, the works of Entartete Musik composers, their styles and characters can be understood perfectly. Related to this, their experiences about Entartete Musik give very important clues for understanding them as both musician and person. Because of that I suggest everyone to be informed about this historical term and period of musical composition.

Reklamlar

Entartete Musik (XI) – Hindemith’s “Trauermusik” for solo viola and string orchestra

Trauermusik literally means Funeral Music or Mourning Music. This piece was composed by Hindemith in a very short period in 1936. Actually, there was not such an idea in Hindemith’s mind to compose a piece for viola like that because when Hindemith composed Trauermusik, he was in London to perform his viola concerto Schwanendreher with BBC Symphony Orchestra. Nevertheless, on 20 January King George V of England died and unfortunately because of that the concert of Schwanendreher was cancelled. Thus, Hindemith composed Trauermusik for showing his respect to the King. From 11:00 to 17:00 o’clock on the same day, he wrote this piece and at the same evening, it was performed in a live broadcast from a studio of BBC radio. This is very important that in the same day it was both composed and performed by Hindemith. He was a great composer and he is one of the composers who brought German music to its highest point of his day. However, because of some different visions at the time of Nazi regime, Germany lost one of its great composers, that Hindemith left his home-land.

Trauermusik is for a solo viola and string orchestra and consists of four short movements. There are quotations from Mathis Der Maler and Der Schwanendreher. All movements have a distinct character that each of them reflects a relation to King George V. Because of the fact that it is a music for funeral, as a whole it represents a calm character. In comparison to the other pieces of composer, this has more melodic lines. Just, I did not like the handling of the string orchestra, because it is not intense and supplies only some harmonic background to the solo viola. Nevertheless, most probably Hindemith wanted to put forward the solo instrument. In addition to that, it is not so deep and intense, in general, as a funeral music. Maybe, if the string orchestra had been stronger, the music would have reflected the mourning character much more. Of course, it should be thought that Hindemith composed this piece in approximately just one day and despite of this fact, it is still a successful piece. Hindemith stated in his letter to Strecker ‘You will have noticed that the swan could not be roasted owing to a dead king. I should write some funeral music myself. From 11 to 5 I did some fairly hefty mourning. I turned out a nice piece, in the style of Mathis and Schwanendreher with a Bach chorale at the end (“Vor deinen Thron tret’ ich hiermit,” very suitable for kings) – 23 January 1936.

As a result of his success with Trauermusik in London and his activities in Turkey, he strengthened his position vis-à-vis Nazis and again he began to teach in the Berlin Musikhochschule.

Bibliography

• Bruhn, S., The Temptation of Paul Hindemith, Pendragon Press, New York, 1998, p. 54-55.
• Skelton, G., Selected Letters of Paul Hindemith, Vail-Ballou Press, New York, 1995, p. 91-92-94.

Entartete Musik (X)- The Viola Concerto of Hindemith “Der Schwanendreher”

Der Schwanendreher is accepted as one of the fundamental pieces of viola repertoire, along with those of Walton and Bartok. The title translates literally as ‘swan-turner’ that means the man turning a swan on the spit. The concerto was composed in 1935 and was premiered in Amsterdam by Hindemith himself on the viola solo on the 14th of November 1935 under Willem Mengelberg. Each movement of concerto is based on a different old German folk song. Throughout the work, mountains, valleys and growing leaves etc. are depicted. Generally, Hindemith’s compositions contain a high level of technical ability. However, the aim does not become the music which is not understandable or difficult for listeners. Despite this, his music requires high musical depth and accumulation because he is reflecting the troubles of his time in his music.

In January 22 1936, Hindemith would be playing the concerto for the second time with BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Adrian Boult at the Queen’s Hall in London. Nevertheless, on January 20, King George V of England died and unfortunately, because of that, the concert was cancelled. Thus, he composed ‘Trauermusik’ for showing his respect to the King. There were quotations from Mathis der Maler and Der Schwanendreher in Trauermusik. However, in 1937 Hindemith performed the viola concerto with a specially gathered orchestra under the conductor Carlos Chavez in Carnegie Hall. In his letters Hindemith reported his Schwanendreher concert which was performed by himself in Carnegie Hall and noted that ‘Stravinsky, who is in New York for rehearsals of his ballet and who sat in the front row at the concert, was also in the concert. He was telling everybody that Der Schwanendreher is an immensely important piece’ (15 April 1937). Since its appearance, the concerto was performed in almost every point of the world by great musicians, principally by Hindemith himself and this has a huge impact on being one of the fundamental pieces of viola repertoire.

Bibliography

•          Bruhn, S., The Temptation of Paul Hindemith, Pendragon Press, New York, 1998, p. 53-54.

•          Skelton, G., Selected Letters of Paul Hindemith, Vail-Ballou Press, New York, 1995, p. 89-90-100-103.

Entartete Musik (IX)- The Opera of Paul Hindemith ‘Mathis der Maler’ (Matthias the Painter)

Matthias Grünewald

Mathis der Maler is the opera of Hindemith that it concerns about German Renaissance painter Matthias Grünewald. Actually, it was first composed as a orchestral work in 1934 and after one year later in 1935, Hindemith completed the full opera. As a orchestral work, Mathis der Maler consists of various scenes in the opera. The idea of composing orchestral work developed with the promise of Hindemith to his close friend Wilhelm Furtwangler because Furtwangler offered him to compose an orchestral piece for performance by Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. Firstly Hindemith was thinking to commission novelist and poet Gottfried Benn (also he was blacklisted by the Nazi regime as degenerate) to write the libretto, however, later he decided to write the libretto himself. Hindemith indicates in his notes wrote to Strecker that ‘I have once completely redrafted Mathis. The new form will be better in every way, there are now just 7 scenes but large and important parts are still lacking. I intend to spend 6 days by the sea (Warnemünde) and await inspiration. Furtwangler is to perform my pieces in February. I prefer this to December’. (9 October 1933).

The Mathis der Maler Symphony was premiered on 12 March 1934 by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra under Wilhelm Furtwangler. It had three movements in which were given various scenes from the opera. After its first performance, Hindemith conducted the Berlin Philharmonic in a gramophone recording of the Mathis der Maler Symphony. The full opera was completed in 1935, nevertheless, its premiere was delayed until 1938 in Zürich, Switzerland because of the political reasons. Nazi regime prevented its performance. First reason to the Nazis’ preventing is Hindemith did not avoid his anti- Nazi convictions. At every opportunity, he emphasized his contrast attitude to the Nazis. In addition to this, he had many Jewish colleagues and continued to give chamber music performances with them. As my view, the most effective reason is about directly Mathis der Maler. German Renaissance painter Matthias Grünewald was ignoring Renaissance classicism and struggling for the freedom of expression in his time’s chaos. Likewise, Hindemith was also dealing with Nazi regime and its rising power. Of course, this political message did not escape the government’s review and the every step of Hindemith had already been followed by the Nazi regime. In my opinion, Matthias Grünewald’s visions have an big impact for Hindemith that he especially chose him in order to reflect his ideas about political affairs with this opera.

Eventually, Nazis reached their aim and especially with this piece, all of performances of his compositions were banned beside banned on the radio broadcast. Other European countries were supporting him. However, this was not enough and he was already blacklisted by the Hitler and Nazis. Thus, he became the part of the Entartete Musik Exhibition in Dusseldorf 1938. In the exhibition, Hindemith’s books and scores were displaying. After this, Hamburger Nachrichten reviewed that ‘Who eats with Jews, dies of it’.

Bibliography

  • Bruhn, S., The Temptation of Paul Hindemith, Pendragon Press, New York, 1998, p. 43-47.
  • Skelton, G., Selected Letters of Paul Hindemith, Vail-Ballou Press, New York, 1995, p. 70-71-72-77-78.

Entartete Musik (VIII)- Paul Hindemith

Hindemith is one of the most important composers of the 20th century. His musical life started with violin and at that time he tended also to viola. Later, he took counterpoint and composition lessons and with them he began to compose. When he was young, Hindemith sustained his life as being konzertmeister in the Frankfurt Opera. In addition, he was playing in some quartets as second violinist and/or violist. After becoming a composition teacher in Hochschule für Musik in Berlin, he concentrated on his compositional working.

Hindemith was also figure of German music life who counted as Degenerate Music Composer. When the Nazis came to power in 1933, firstly he did not express his side directly. However, with the long sovereignty of Hitler, Hindemith was writing that ‘This will soon be over. We may have to wait a few more months until things return to normal’. In addition to this, according to the notes of one of his Berlin students, Hindemith did not beware the Nazis. Students noted that ‘Hindemith did not make any secret of his anti-Nazi convictions. He was not afraid of being given away to the authorities, though he could have been a hundred times over.’ In my opinion, if Hindemith had withdrawn himself and had been afraid of Nazis, he could not have been a great composer like this. Because despite of Nazi regime’s pressure, he continued to compose and did not change his direction that he belonged to. Likewise, he went on to give chamber music performances with his Jewish colleagues.

Hindemith was also close friend of Wilhelm Furtwängler who was the conductor of Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. Hindemith had promised Furtwängler that he would compose an orchestral piece for the Berlin Philharmonic. After this, he decided to compose for them. It was the orchestral piece, consisted of series of preludes which were the various scenes in the opera ‘Mathis der Maler’. In the letters of Hindemith, that he wrote to Willy Strecker, referring to his opera, he is indicating  that ‘ Furtwängler is to perform my pieces in February. I prefer this to December, since I think it good to wait a little while yet’ (9 October 1933). Mathis der Maler was premiered on 12 March 1934 by the Berlin Philharmonic through Furtwängler. However, after a short time of its premiere, permission of  performing the composition in some places in Germany was refused. Besides this, after Hindemith’s visit to Switzerland, a report was put forward that accused him for saying critical remarks about Hitler. Thus, all of his works were banned from the radio broadcast until his offense was proved. To put an end to the campaign of Nazis against the composer, Furtwängler requested a personal interview with Hitler. Nevertheless, in my opinion, this had not been enough for Hitler, on the contrary, this had adverse effect because after this, Furtwängler was obliged to give up his position as musical director in Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.

In another letter that Hindemith wrote to Willy Strecker, it reads ‘Dear Willy, yesterday evening I was with big Wilhelm, we discussed the whole thing. He has no fears at all about that he is in a very strong position with the top people again on account of some foreign affairs. His plan is now this: He will write an article attacking the whole things which will appear in the DAZ (Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung) or some other newspapers in the next few days’ (18 November 1934). After this, Furtwängler’s article was published in the DAZ in 25 November 1934. In the article, Furtwangler was defending Hindemith’s rights and his achievements as a composer and teacher.

In 1935, because of both escaping from more dangerous happenings in Germany and the challenging situation, Hindemith undertook his first of several tours to Turkey where he was commissioned to establish a conservatory in Ankara. After he turned back to Germany, his violin sonata was performed and nevertheless, this was not also welcomed and with this piece, all of performances of his compositions were banned beside the ban on the radio broadcast. Other European countries were supporting him. However, this was not enough and he was already blacklisted by Hitler and the Nazis. Thus, he became the part of the Entartete Musik Exhibition in Dusseldorf 1938. In the exhibition, Hindemith’s books and scores were displayed. After this, Hamburger Nachrichten reviewed that ‘Who eats with Jews, dies of it’.

In 1938, Hindemith left Germany and settled in Switzerland. However, in 1940, he decided to be with his friends that left Europe altogether for the United States. Thus, he received the position of Professor of Music Theory at Yale University. After a few years, he was asked to lead the Berlin Philharmonic. Nonetheless, he was still uncomfortable with Germany and because of that he did not accept that offer and continued his work in Yale. In my opinion, Germany had lost a great number of musicians and professors at the time of Nazi regime. They were not accepted in Germany, however, they received professorship in many countries outside Germany. They were exposed to intense insulting in their homeland. Their music was banned in Germany and Austria and they were humiliated in newspapers and social events, for example like in exhibitions about “Entartete Kunst”. Nevertheless, now, they are seen as most prestigious artists of their own countries and the things that they had experienced were not forgotten. Their fellow citizens struggle to recover them. All of these can not be forgotten. They should just adopt and protect them.

Bibliography

  • Bruhn, S., The Temptation of Paul Hindemith, Pendragon Press, New York, 1998, p. 43-47.
  • Skelton, G., Selected Letters of Paul Hindemith, Vail-Ballou Press, New York, 1995, p. 69-77-81-85.

Entartete Musik (VII)- Franz Schreker and his romantic opera ‘Die Gezeichneten’

Schreker was one of the most important composers in his period. His compositions were reflecting repercussions of late romantic. In this period, composers turned their direction to their inner psychology and because of that subjects of their compositions were about people’s emotions which projected problems of daily life. Generally, Schreker followed this way in his compositions.

‘Die Gezeichneten’(Damgalılar) was one of his operas which counted as romantic piece. At first, this opera was actually thought for order of Zemlinsky who was the musician friend of Schreker. He wrote the libretto in 1911 ,however, Schereker later decided to use the libretto in his opera which was actually written for Zemlinsky. Opera was completed in 1915 and its score was published in Vienna. In 1914, overture of opera was performed in also Vienna by the Vienna Philarmonic Orchestra and in 1918, the whole opera was performed at the Frankfurt Opera. Schreker was one of the most famous composers in his time. He composed several operas and became the dominant for opera composers who came after Schreker. Die Gezeichneten’s first performance had big successful and became effective in many cities of Germany and Austria. In these countries, this opera was also performed several times. However, I can not understand that in our times, his name is not known by many people, unfortunately. It is worrying that when he was so important in his life time, now he was almost forgotten.

The subject of the opera was love. Its story was based on a women’s love who was in the two men’s love. Because of the story’s intrigues, it had many complex moods. With long harmonic lines and tone centers, which changed according to the mood, it became an important example of late romantic period. However, at that time, it was containing sexuality and eroticism. For Schreker, sexuality and eroticism was very important and because of that he was using these subjects almost in his each operatic works. In 1933, he was blacklisted by the Nazis and their compositions were banned. In my opinion, one of the reasons was his excessive usage of sexuality and eroticism. And the other reason was usage of jazz. Like all musicians in his time, Schreker also tended to jazz and used this in his some compositions. Jazz had already counted as symbol of modernism. All of these were enough for his music to be banned. And of course his name was also in Entartete Musik Composers and in the Entartete Kunst exhibition. In the Entartete Kunst exhibition in Dusseldorf, 1938, it was written like that for Schreker: “There is no sexual heresy that Schreker can not transfer it to music”. Thus, he became one of the blacklisted composers and his compositions were not performed through the Nazi regime.

 

Bibliography

•          Rye, M., Doğanay H., Ölmeden Önce Dinlemeniz Gereken 1001 Klasik Müzik, SNP Leefung Printers Ltd., 2007, p.624-625.

•          http://holocaustmusic.ort.org/politics-and-propaganda/third-reich/schreker-franz/

Entartete Musik (VI)- Franz Schreker- Why he was blacklisted by the Nazis and how he became Entartete Musik Composer?

Franz Schreker is a late romantic composer and the counterpoint teacher of Ernst Krenek. He is known with his operatic works because he especially concentrates on opera and his operas are very successful. When they premiered in 1900s, they were loved by everybody. In addition to his operas, he has also a great number of orchestral, chamber and choral works. However, our contemporary world, his name is not known by much people. If in Schreker’s time he was one of the famous composers, it is worrying that nowadays he is almost forgotten.

His works were reflecting his period’s late romantic characteristics. In late romantic period, composers began to turn their inner psychology. Their sadness, happiness, love and even their sexual choice were only in their music. They could reflect themselves with music. These were their materials. Maybe all these psychological effects had not existed, their music would not have been impressive like this. Schreker was one of these composers. He was reflecting his music by using self-expression. His opera “Die Gezeichneten”(1915) was about love. Its story was based on a women’s love who was in the two men’s love. Because of the story’s intrigues, it had many complex moods and with long harmonic lines and tone centers, which changed according to the mood, it became an important example of late romantic period.

His another opera “Der Ferne Klang” (1910) was containing sexuality and eroticism. For Schreker, sexuality and eroticism was very important and because of that he was using these subjects almost in his each operatic works. In addition to this, at that time, influence of American jazz reflected his music. As we know, jazz was the striking symbol of modernism in his period. All of these was enough for Nazis to eliminate Schreker because Nazi regime was opponent to the modernism and beside this, Scheker was using sexuality and eroticism. The regime did not accept these and Scheker was blacklisted by the Nazis. His opera “Christophorus”  (1929) was forced to cancel by Nazis and its premiere was performed in 1978. His other opera “Der Schmied von Gent” (1932) was premiered in 1932, however, after that it was canceled by the regime. In the Entartete Kunst exhibition in Dusseldorf, 1938, it was written like that for Schreker: “There is no sexual heresy that Schreker can not transfer it to music”. Thus, Schreker became one of the eliminated composers and he was blacklisted as Degenerate Music Composers.

Bibliography