When Classical Music Was an Alibi

Allied forces were being keen to “clean up” the reputations of musicians whose talents they…

Allied forces were being keen to “clean up” the reputations of musicians whose talents they valued, and even aided some in gliding as a result of the denazification process. On July 4, 1945, the soprano Elisabeth Schwarzkopf was questioned to fill out a Fragebogen mainly because she was on the Salzburg register of Countrywide Socialists in Austria. Had the type been deemed acceptable, the American armed service would have authorized her return to the stage.

But when the American intelligence officer overseeing her scenario, Otto von Pasetti, realized that she experienced lied on the form, he destroyed it. The adhering to day, she was asked to fill out another one particular. Despite the fact that it was not any additional accurate, Pasetti accepted it for the reason that Schwarzkopf’s position as a celeb diva had persuaded him that “no other acceptable singer” was available for significant operatic performances. Soon thereafter, she climbed into a jeep pushed by an American officer, Lieutenant Albert van Arden, and was driven 250 kilometers to Graz, Austria, to sing Konstanze in Mozart’s “Die Entführung aus dem Serail.”

After 1945, then, vocation continuity was extra the norm than the exception. Denazification position defined speedy employability but was only one particular component in musicians’ potential clients. Artists looking to resume their occupations conveniently identified by themselves as POWs, refugees, bombing victims, disabled troopers and widows, a lot of facing housing and foodstuff insecurity. Reference letters applied postwar hardship as a justification for precedence thing to consider or experimented with to explain how a human being experienced been pulled into, as 1 place it, the “vortex” of Nazi politics. One particular baritone certain administrators that whilst he had been detained in a prison camp for a number of decades, he nevertheless “had the possibility to apply.”

These claims of hardship easily slid into narratives of victimhood. Bombed live performance halls and opera houses in formerly Nazi territories ended up powerful symbols of destruction and the requirement of rebuilding, but also enabled the emphasis to shift from Nazi atrocities to German struggling. At the opening of the rebuilt Vienna Point out Opera on Nov. 5, 1955, just months right after Williams’s debut in “Butterfly,” the conductor Karl Böhm — who experienced led live shows celebrating Hitler’s annexation of Austria in 1938 — was on the podium for the celebration. No Jewish survivors had been invited to take part.

Performances amid the rubble reignited a perception of local community and tried to rehabilitate classical tunes as inherently humanistic, common and uplifting right after its intended “corruption” by propagandistic use through the Nazi era. In “The German Catastrophe” (1946), the historian Friedrich Meinecke evoked the electric power of German songs as a restorative force: “What is a lot more individual and German than the terrific German music from Bach to Brahms?” For Meinecke, the country’s new music was redemptive, expressing the nationwide spirit whilst nonetheless possessing a “universal Occidental result.”

Some composers, encouraged by the Allies, promoted the plan that modernist musical strategies had been notably antifascist because they had been banned by the Nazis — an exaggeration equally of Nazi officials’ stylistic knowing and of the stage of handle they exerted over the arts. Winfried Zillig, a German who composed in the 12-tone style, experienced many job successes from 1933 to 1945, together with significant opera premieres and a situation in occupied Poland, granted as a reward for his operas’ political values.