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A Windfall of Musicians

A Windfall of Musicians: Hitler's Émigrés and Exiles in Southern California

Dorothy Lamb Crawford
Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 336
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  • Book Info
    A Windfall of Musicians
    Book Description:

    This book is the first to examine the brilliant gathering of composers, conductors, and other musicians who fled Nazi Germany and arrived in the Los Angeles area. Musicologist Dorothy Lamb Crawford looks closely at the lives, creative work, and influence of sixteen performers, fourteen composers, and one opera stage director, who joined this immense migration beginning in the 1930s. Some in this group were famous when they fled Europe, others would gain recognition in the young musical culture of Los Angeles, and still others struggled to establish themselves in an environment often resistant to musical innovation.

    Emphasizing individual voices, Crawford presents short portraits of Igor Stravinsky, Arnold Schoenberg, and the other musicians while also considering their influence as a group-in the film industry, in music institutions in and around Los Angeles, and as teachers who trained the next generation. The book reveals a uniquely vibrant era when Southern California became a hub of unprecedented musical talent.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-15548-8
    Subjects: Music, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xi)
    (pp. xii-xiv)
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  6. 1 Europe
    (pp. 1-22)

    A school dropout at age sixteen, Adolf Hitler based his life’s ambition “to become the people’s tribune” on the example he found in the arrogant, destructive hero of Wagner’s early revolutionary opera,Rienzi. (“In that hour it began,” he boasted to Winifred Wagner at the Bayreuth Festival in 1939.¹) In 1908, rejected in his application to art school in Vienna at age nineteen, he set himself the ambitious project of attempting to complete the text, design the theater sets, and to compose the music for a mythic play that Wagner had outlined and rejected. “It was as though a demon...

  7. 2 Paradise?
    (pp. 23-38)

    The first impression was of the beauty of the area. The writer Vicki Baum, formerly a child harpist and youthful professor at the Vienna Academy of Music, remembered: “A gentian-blue sky above us, filled with glittering stars and the perfume of jasmine in the cold nights; hillsides and gardens sparkling with dew each morning, with all the colors of a wild Van Gogh palette as the sun rose, the air so clear you didn’t want to breathe but drink it. I think I stayed drunk for weeks with this sun and air and the beauty of the hills.”¹ Baum had...

  8. 3 Otto Klemperer and the Los Angeles Philharmonic
    (pp. 39-54)

    Otto Klemperer arrived in Los Angeles on October 14, 1933, with no plan to bring his family from their new home in Vienna. He was forty-eight and impressively handsome; he was also intellectually inclined and awkward in social situations. Much to his discomfort, he was greeted at the station with brass fanfares and tossed into a maelstrom of social gatherings, including a film-star-studded dinner at the Biltmore. On the 17th he was presented to the press, which reported his height variously at six feet seven and six feet five, his eyes as expressive and dark, and his face as that...

  9. 4 Performers, and Klemperer’s Return
    (pp. 55-78)

    It was not only the beauty and Mediterranean climate of Southern California but also a network of relationships that drew the fleeing European performers. At first, Klemperer was at the center of this network. Of the many European artists he invited to Los Angeles to perform, the soprano Lotte Lehmann, the violinist Joseph Szigeti, and the cellist Gregor Piatigorsky all made their homes in Southern California, where the force of their personalities resounded in varying ways among the musical community for several decades. The cellist Emanuel Feuermann, on the faculty at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, also taught master classes...

  10. 5 Innovative Teachers in the Performing Arts
    (pp. 79-101)

    Inspired by the evident need for their expertise, the teaching of Southern California’s émigré musicians—much of it extraordinary—filled many gaps in Los Angeles’ classical music culture. One large gap was opera. Los Angeles had left the founding and decades of support for a symphony orchestra to a single wealthy citizen and found it easier to rely on touring companies from elsewhere than to build a local opera. In 1934 the San Francisco Opera began annual visits to Los Angeles under the administration of Gaetano Merola.¹ To the growing throng of European émigrés, these occasional tidbits of their favorite...

  11. 6 Arnold Schoenberg
    (pp. 102-133)

    Arnold Schoenberg had just turned sixty when he made the sudden decision in mid-September 1934 to leave the East Coast for California. He wrote to his friends that in Los Angeles he faced “a completely blank page, so far as my music is concerned.”¹ With no other alternative after his prestigious Berlin position was terminated in October 1933, he had accepted a low salary to teach at the brand-new Malkin Conservatory in Boston, with adjunct teaching in Manhattan. The strenuous commuting in the harsh winter climate had severely damaged his health, and he had gone to the summer home of...

  12. 7 Ernst Toch
    (pp. 134-161)

    After the United States entered the war in 1941, Southern California’s tremendous response to President Roosevelt’s call for an “Arsenal of Democracy,” combined with the new emphasis on war propaganda in Hollywood films, produced a civilian warrior mentality that extended to young musicians in Los Angeles. Their pride in the great Europeans who had settled in their midst caused ideological battles for differing streams of contemporary musical thought. Partisans of either Schoenberg or Stravinsky joined opposing camps to debate with or shun each other in the foyers of the city’s concert halls. An equally partisan but less vocal third party...

  13. 8 European Composers in the “Picture Business”
    (pp. 162-197)

    From their European points of view, both Arnold Schoenberg and Ernst Toch originally voiced optimism for film’s potential as a new synthesis of the arts for the masses. Their hopes were dashed by 1940. By that time many more refugee European composers had flocked to Hollywood, hoping to find work in the booming film industry, one of the few American industries unchecked by the Depression. Their expectations were high. Sound film was young, and ripe, they thought, for the expertise of experienced, skilled composers. Like Toch, Kurt Weill and Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco wrote articles before they traveled to California that declared...

  14. 9 Issues of Identity: Ernst Krenek, Eric Zeisl, and Ingolf Dahl
    (pp. 198-221)

    Problems of creative identity, interlocked with questions of personal and professional identity, plagued émigré composers to a greater extent than performers. In America, Arnold Schoenberg turned back to tonality from time to time in hopes of gaining wider appreciation for his music. After Schoenberg’s death and the premiere ofThe Rake’s Progressin 1951, Igor Stravinsky turned from neoclassicism to serial techniques in his desire to stay current with postwar developments in new music. Even Ernst Toch, who chose seclusion after his 1948 heart attack, was willing to compose in the twelve-tone method and attempted electronic music. But Toch’s twelvetone...

  15. 10 Stravinsky in Hollywood
    (pp. 222-242)

    Igor Stravinsky was certainly the most widely publicized of Los Angeles’ musical émigrés. Because he had lived in exile since the Russian Revolution, he was among the most expert at adaptation, and, like many performers, he was able to make preparations for his emigration. As early as 1922, George Antheil got the impression from their frequent conversations in Berlin that Stravinsky was considering whether to “visit America to learn, first hand, just what Americans are like and how far they might be expected to understand his music.” Antheil also noted with dismay Stravinsky’s way of “invariably turning idealistic musical conversations...

  16. Epilogue
    (pp. 243-244)

    Like Stravinsky, most of the émigrés discussed in this book managed to find personal self-renewal through individual journeys of discovery in their Californian lives. They came from cultures in which the traditions of classical music were so deeply rooted in their nations’ identities that their expulsion could be used to strike fear into the hearts and minds of the general populace, yet they settled by necessity in an area that Peter Yates in 1931 found to be a “veritable Sahara of artistic incomprehension.”¹ Their individual struggles with changes in identity demanded by their uprooting, and their needs to realize their...

    (pp. 245-292)
  18. INDEX
    (pp. 293-318)