Forbidden Music The Jewish Composers Banned by the Nazis Michael Haas

Publication date:
02 Apr 2013
336 pages: 234 x 156 x 35mm
16pp. section of b&w illustrations

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When National Socialism arrived in Germany in 1933, Jews were dominating music more than virtually any other sector, making it the most important cultural front in the Nazi fight for German identity. The party's policy on music brought about a cultural holocaust, with far-reaching consequences for the history and development of music during the twentieth century. The conventioanl view is that the Third Reich's rejection of atonality was an act of anti-semitism. Yet although Jewish musicians and composers were responsible for countless original ideas applied to both the popular and serious music of the day, as well as becoming the experimenters who would represent the starting point of the century's most daring avant-garde, they were also by 1933 almost uniquely the principal conveyors of Germany's historic traditions and the ideals of German culture. The isolation, exile and persecution of Austro-German Jewish musicians by the Nazis became an act of musical self-mutilation. Michael Haas looks at the actual contribution of Jewish composers in Germany and Austria before 1933, at their increasingly precarious position between then and 1939, at the forced emigration of composers and performers before and during the war, and at the emaciated post-war musical life of Germany and Austria, while many of the exiled composers and musicians flourished in Britian, the United States, and elsewhere.

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Michael Haas was producer of London/Deccas's recording series 'Entartete Musik' and was music curator at the Jewish Museum in Vienna. He is presently research director of the Jewish Music Institute for Suppressed Music, SOAS, University of London.

'A richly detailed history of Jewish musicians'.— 'A tragic and epic story that Haas relates so magisterially well that this book will probably remain definitive on its subject for the foreseeable future'.—, starred review 'A valuable compendium of untold stories, a corrective to standard histories of music and an essential reference point for anyone engaged in the culture and politics of the 20th century'.—Norman Lebrecht, 'An outstandingly fine piece of work.'—Terry Teachout, 'Haas [...] has produced a meticulously documented study of this 'lost generation' of composers, ranging historically over almost two centuries [...]'—Mark Pappenheim, 'Michael Haas’ important new study. . . not only tells us about the ‘Forbidden’ music and musicians but also investigates the origins of this appalling episode . . . Haas writes with insight and intelligence, illustrating his points with quotations from a wide range of sources . . . Haas writes eloquently about the marginalisation and suppression of the non-Aryan music and the murders and migrations that followed. He describes the rich legacy of these tragic times on post-war musical life in Britain, the US and the world'.—Daniel Snowman, ' . . . offers an essential supplement to standard histories of music in thrall to big names and vested interests. The trajectory is tortuous and tragic, the future still uncertain'.—David Gutman, 'This heart-breaking book . . . is eloquently written with an almost poetic sensitivity to the subject . . . its publication is a revelation, packed as it is with an overwhelming amount of documents and facts, enriched with fascinating details about modern music from a distinctively Jewish perspective – justifiably so, as the entire musical period was significantly shaped by Jewish composers . . . Forbidden Music serves as a powerful reminder of what Austria in particular has lost in rich 20th century musical culture'.—Matthias Wurz, '[T]his compelling exploration of the role Jewish musicians and composers played in the cultural life of the Prussian and Austro-Hungarian Empire. . . is rich in unexpected facts and quotes. . . Its greatest virtue is the unearthing of composers, critics, conductors and musicians destined for obscurity. Haas makes a pleasingly detailed argument for honouring a treasure trove to which the development of Western music owes a considerable debt'.—Rebecca K Morrison,

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