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Thread: did nazi banned all avant-garde classical during there era?

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    Senior Member deprofundis's Avatar
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    Default did nazi banned all avant-garde classical during there era?

    Im wondering if all avant-garde music was banned and all german had has music was lili marlin and Wagner on radio.

    Because in movie when they show us germans there lisening to these and nothing else, was music in nazi germany very limited.

    Were all avant garde banned or some spare for a reason, what is the story here?
    Perhaps my question have been ask a 100 time allready but i Wonder??

    What did the nazi tolerate in classical composers?, were they against atonal in general ,perceived has degenerate ?

    Have a nice day folks

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    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Here's Wikipedia on the subject:

    'The Reichsmusikkammer (translatable variously as "Reich Music Chamber," "State Music Institute," or "State Music Bureau") was a Nazi institution. It promoted "good German music" which was composed by Aryans and seen as consistent with Nazi ideals, while suppressing other, "degenerate" music, which included atonal music, jazz, and music by Jewish composers. The Institute was founded in 1933 by Joseph Goebbels and the Reichskulturkammer (State Bureau of Culture), and it operated until the fall of the Third Reich in 1945.

    'One of the Institute's primary goals — that of extolling and promoting "good German music", specifically that of Beethoven, Wagner, Bach, Mozart, Haydn, Brahms, Bruckner and the like — was to legitimize the claimed world supremacy of Germany culturally. These composers and their music were re-interpreted ideologically to extol German virtues and cultural identity.

    'Music and composers who did not fall into the RMK's definition of "good German music" were deprecated and then banned. The Institute proscribed various great composers of the past, including the Jewish-by-birth composers Mahler, Mendelssohn, and Schoenberg, and also Debussy, who had married a Jew. The music of politically dissident composers such as Alban Berg was also banned. And composers whose music had ever been considered sexually suggestive or savage, such as Hindemith, Stravinsky and the like, were denounced as "degenerate" and banned.

    'Jazz and swing music were seen as degenerate and proscribed. Jazz was labelled Negermusik ("Negro Music");[1] and swing music was associated with various Jewish bandleaders and composers such as Artie Shaw and Benny Goodman. Also proscribed were Jewish Tin Pan Alley composers like Irving Berlin and George Gershwin.

    'The Reichsmusikkammer also functioned as a musicians' guild, with composers, performers, conductors, teachers, and instrument manufacturers being obliged to join in order to pursue or continue a career in music. Membership could be denied on grounds of race or politics.[2] Dozens of composers, songwriters, lyricists, and musicians were ruined or forced into exile because for one reason or another (often political or racial) they did not adhere to or comply with the RMK's standards. The career, for instance, of popular operetta composer Leon Jessel was destroyed by the Institute when it promoted boycotts of his music and finally banned it.'


    The Wikipedia article gives the impression that it was mainly German music that was approved and performed, but it's also apparently true that Verdi's operas were performed as often as, and even more often than, Wagner's. Verdi's nationalist sentiments were apparently viewed sympathetically, and his popular melodies much enjoyed, while Wagner, though one of Hitler's favorite composers, was over the heads of the rank and file Nazis, who were not particularly cultured and only endured sitting through his long operas when they were forced to. The invariable use of Wagner's music as a soundtrack for films about the Third Reich gives a distorted picture of both Hitler's tastes and the musical life of the time.
    Last edited by Woodduck; Jan-23-2015 at 20:54.

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    Senior Member joen_cph's Avatar
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    There´s a bit more specific information here:

    https://books.google.dk/books?id=ynl...20nazi&f=false

    (and succeeding pages)
    Last edited by joen_cph; Jan-23-2015 at 21:10.

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    I gather that Meistersinger was the only opera performed at Bayreuth during that era?

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    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by albertfallickwang View Post
    I gather that Meistersinger was the only opera performed at Bayreuth during that era?
    No, that is not true.

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    What they did in public and private were quite different. High Nazis were known to listen to "degenerate negro jazz" in the privacy of their own flats.
    Facts don't care about your feelings.

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    That was their official position. This had something to do with both what Hitler considered the great German tradition of music (Bach, Beethoven, Mahler, Bruckner, and of course Wagner et. al.) and also the prevalence of Jewish composers on the modern scene, most obviously Schoenberg but extending to even Debussy (who was a modernist) - he had married a Jewish woman. However, Hitler was a fan of some modern music, which was put on display in the 1938 display of Degenerate Music organized by Hans Ziegler, who claimed atonality to be a "product of the Jewish spirit" of Schoenberg. This hypocrisy was pointed out by Richard Strauss. According to The Rest is Noise, by Alex Ross:

    "Strauss made a particularly acid comment [to Ziegler] about the 'degenerate music' concept; in a conversation with Ziegler, he asked, with a 'half-bitter, half-mischievous' laugh, why the decadent operas of Franz Lehar [The Merry Widow is at the Met right now] and his own 'pure atonal' Salome had been omitted. The answer was implicit: Hitler like them.
    This makes the position of the Nazis clear: Although atonal composition was considered to be "degenerate" and "Jewish", there were gaps in their reasoning large enough for Hitler to sneak his favorite works past. Hitler, in fact, worked very hard to keep works in Nazi Germany that were very clearly anti-Nazi philosophy. A great example of this phenomenon occurred most famously with Hitler's favorite opera, Wagner's Parsifal. From Alex Ross again:

    Parsifal became the subject of a tug-of-war among the Nazi leaders. Goebbels, Rosenberg, and Himmler all wanted to have the opera removed from German stages on the grounds that its mystical Christianity traduced the Nazi spirit...Parsifal must remain, Hitler said, although directors would have to figure out a more modern setting for it...As Wieland put Parsifal performed so to speak against his own Party!!!!
    (Hitler had a de-Christianified version of Parsifal later produced.)

    The point is, "officially" the Nazis deplored the avant-garde. Were it not for Hitler, it would have completely been cast out.

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    Also, the Nazis were against the "popular" American music - that is, the Tin Pan Alley jazz - because of its Jewish leaders, most notably Gershwin, Kern, and Berlin. The Nazis also resented the high concentration of blacks in jazz. The German propaganda machines even made note out of this - for instance, one of Orff's works was dubbed "Niggermusik".

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hmmbug View Post
    That was their official position. This had something to do with both what Hitler considered the great German tradition of music (Bach, Beethoven, Mahler, Bruckner, and of course Wagner et. al.) and also the prevalence of Jewish composers on the modern scene, most obviously Schoenberg but extending to even Debussy (who was a modernist) - he had married a Jewish woman. However, Hitler was a fan of some modern music, which was put on display in the 1938 display of Degenerate Music organized by Hans Ziegler, who claimed atonality to be a "product of the Jewish spirit" of Schoenberg. This hypocrisy was pointed out by Richard Strauss. According to The Rest is Noise, by Alex Ross:
    Hitler allegedly admired Mahler as a conductor, and there are reports of him having attended a Mahler-conducted performance of Wagner (Tristan, most likely) at the Vienna Court Opera, but Mahler's own music was considered degenerate and Jewish (and hence supposedly not German).
    Last edited by Mahlerian; Jan-24-2015 at 06:44.

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    Senior Member Sloe's Avatar
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    Jazz musicians were performing in Nazi Germany.
    I can´t see why Debussy was banned because he had a Jewish wife.
    Franz Lehar had a jewish wife too and he was one of Hitler's favourite composers. Carmen was one of the most popular operas and George Bizet had a Jewish wife too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sloe View Post
    Jazz musicians were performing in Nazi Germany.
    I can´t see why Debussy was banned because he had a Jewish wife.
    Franz Lehar had a jewish wife too and he was one of Hitler's favourite composers. Carmen was one of the most popular operas and George Bizet had a Jewish wife too.
    I don't think that you should get to worked up over inconsitencies in the Nazi's enforcement of their own standards. If Hitler liked something he could overlook quite a bit of his dogma.

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    Senior Member quack's Avatar
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    Only loosely related, but a near-forgotten name that is worth remembering is Valaida Snow.



    Louis Armstrong supposedly called her the 2nd greatest jazz trumpeter, after himself of course. She was definitely a talented multi-instrumentalist. She was locked up by the nazi government in Denmark while touring there during the war.
    The soft complaining flute in dying notes discovers the woes of hopeless lovers.

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    Thank you for the Valaida Snow story, which I did not know. A Danish university source and a newspaper article (1981 & 1997) however say that she worked in Denmark in 1930, in Scandinavia 1939-1940 and then in Denmark since 1940 (with the still-going-strong jazz violinist Svend Asmussen), but that the arrest was 1) due to a drug case, and/or 2) the result of German interference. Also, that local police actually helped her going back to the US via Sweden in 1942.
    (http://facius-homepage.dk/jazz/snow/snow.html).

    Denmark did not have a government consisting of Nazis during the German occupation, the result of an invasion, but there was some degree of - mostly forced - collaboration, with offical protests, boycott and saboteurs increasing especially after 1943. For instance, the Danish police forced was arrested and many members sent to concentration camps. The degree of collaboration in the early war years in particular is the subject of an ongoing discussion and scholarly research here, however.
    Last edited by joen_cph; Jan-24-2015 at 22:03.

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    They banned the music of Arnold Schoenberg, considered it utterly degenerate along with avant-garde visual arts as well.

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    Hitler apparently offered Imre Kalman 'honorary Aryan' status due to his being one of Hitler's favourite composers. If that isn't the most toe-curling hypocrisy, well... To his everlasting credit, Kalman refused and then left Austria.
    '...a violator of his word, a libertine over head and ears in debt and disgrace, a despiser of domestic ties, the companion of gamblers and demireps, a man who has just closed half a century without a single claim on the gratitude of his country or the respect of posterity...' - Leigh Hunt on the Prince Regent (later George IV).

    ὃν οἱ θεοὶ φιλοῦσιν ἀποθνῄσκει νέος [Those whom the gods love die young] - Menander

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