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Mozart and the Nazis

Mozart and the Nazis: The Abuse of a Cultural Icon

ERIK LEVI
Copyright Date: 2010
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 256
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt5vkw0t
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  • Book Info
    Mozart and the Nazis
    Book Description:

    Despite the apparent incompatibility between Mozart's humanitarian and cosmopolitan outlook and Nazi ideology, the Third Reich tenaciously promoted the great composer's music to further the goals of the fascist regime. In this revelatory book, Erik Levi draws on period articles, diaries, speeches, and other archival materials to provide a new understanding of how the Nazis shamelessly manipulated Mozart for their own political advantage. The book also explores the continued Jewish veneration of the composer during this period while also highlighting some of the disturbing legacies of Mozart reception that resulted from Nazi appropriation of his work. Augmented by rare contemporary illustrations,Mozart and the Naziswill be widely welcomed by readers with interests in music, German history, Holocaust studies, propaganda, and politics in the twentieth century.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-16581-4
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
    (pp. vi-vii)
  4. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
    (pp. viii-viii)
  5. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-3)

    Although many regimes have appropriated great historical and artistic figures of the past for their own political purposes, none has done so with such thoroughness as the Nazis. Exploiting the wave of national euphoria that followed their accession to power in 1933, the Nazi government sought to harness the greatest representatives of Germany’s rich cultural heritage as a means of serving their particular aims and objectives. In order to lend gravitas and respectability to their actions, as well as maintain a sense of continuity with the past, they pursued a policy that necessitated recreating these icons in their own image....

  6. CHAPTER 1 PROLOGUE: 1931, A MOZART YEAR
    (pp. 4-15)

    1931 was a particularly bleak year for Germany. The after-effects of the world economic crisis, prompted by the Wall Street Crash of October 1929, had cast a long dark shadow over the country. To all intents and purposes, the Weimar Republic was dying on its feet, its impotent government merely lurching from one calamity to another. Unemployment, already at very high levels at the beginning of the year, had risen to over five and a half million by January 1932.² A spate of bank failures during the summer months, culminating in the collapse of the Darmstadter National Bank on 13...

  7. CHAPTER 2 DER DEUTSCHE MOZART
    (pp. 16-32)

    The first three months of Nazi rule in 1933 bore witness to one of the most tumultuous changes in German musical life. Within weeks, a whole swathe of prominent musicians, regarded by the new regime as politically and racially unacceptable, had been forced out of work and felt compelled to leave the country. The process was accomplished in two different stages. Initially, the regime appeared to sanction a show of force from Nazi party organisations as the most effective means of driving undesirable people out. This happened in two separate incidents that took place in early March 1933. In Dresden...

  8. CHAPTER 3 MOZART AND THE FREEMASONS: A NAZI PROBLEM
    (pp. 33-52)

    In his political testamentMein Kampf, Adolf Hitler attacked Freemasonry as a conspiratorial agency of the Jews. ‘To strengthen his political position’, he argued, the Jew

    tries to tear down the racial and civil barriers which for a time continue to restrain him at every step. To this end, he fights with all the tenacity innate in him for religious tolerance—and in Freemasonry, which has succumbed to him completely, he has an excellent instrument with which to fight for his aims and put them across. The governing circles and the higher strata of the political and economic bourgeoisie are...

  9. CHAPTER 4 ARYANISING MOZART
    (pp. 53-87)

    After settling in Vienna in 1781, Mozart came into contact with a number of colleagues and acquaintances who were of Jewish origin. Many had secured their position in the Austrian capital as a result of their acumen in business, public finance and munitions. They were also to benefit from the reforms of Emperor Joseph II, whose Edict of Tolerance, issued on 2 January 1782, was designed to end the social and economic isolation of the Jews in Lower Austria. The majority of those known to Mozart had converted to Christianity, no doubt believing such a move would advance the possibilities...

  10. CHAPTER 5 THE MOZART DIASPORA
    (pp. 88-119)

    Whether or not the Yiddish poet Jacob Glatstein was fully aware of the lengths to which the Nazis went in attempting to detach the composer from any contamination with the Jews, there can be little doubt that his poem ‘Mozart’ presents a very provocative image. Written in 1946, in the aftermath of the Holocaust, the first two verses of the poem invoke a powerful metaphor, drawing a chilling parallel between the death of Mozart and the destruction of European culture during the Second World War. Glatstein observes a world in which the forces of evil, represented by the Christian gentiles,...

  11. CHAPTER 6 ‘TRUE HUMANITARIAN MUSIC’: EXILED WRITERS ON MOZART
    (pp. 120-144)

    The high regard in which Mozart was held among Jewish musicians was never projected with greater intensity than during the Third Reich. At a time when open-mindedness and compassion were being systematically defiled by the Nazis, it was all the more necessary to proclaim Mozart as a humanitarian, a force of moral strength and a cultural icon that transcended national and religious boundaries. With good reason, therefore, the composer became a particularly potent symbol for displaced writers on music committed to countering Nazi propaganda which, through wilful manipulation and misinterpretation, had attempted to pervert his legacy.

    In 1941, the year...

  12. CHAPTER 7 MOZART PERFORMANCE AND PROPAGANDA: FROM THE ANSCHLUSS TO THE END OF WORLD WAR II
    (pp. 145-189)

    Despite some of the controversies relating to Mozart which surfaced during the first years of Nazi rule, the composer only became the object of more concentrated exploitation at the highest levels of the Party after 1938. Undoubtedly the turning point was the absorption of Austria into the German Reich in March 1938, and the realisation that Mozart could be used as powerful cultural weapon with which to promote the concept of a Greater Germany. Absolutely central to this process was the Nazification of Salzburg, Mozart’s birthplace, and the politicisation of the Salzburg Festival.

    In Chapter 5 Nazi attempts to subvert...

  13. CHAPTER 8 MOZART SERVES GERMAN IMPERIALISM
    (pp. 190-235)

    As well as exploiting Mozart to boost morale on the home front, his work was also manipulated to serve the interests of German cultural expansionism in the occupied territories. Yet the ways in which this manipulation was effected depended to a large extent on the particular country or region under German control. In the former Czechoslovak Republic, for example, Mozart’s work was used to bolster the notion of German cultural hegemony. This remained a relatively straightforward matter in the Sudetenland. But in Prague, Mozart appeared to serve both the interest of the ruling German authorities and that of the oppressed...

  14. CHAPTER 9 EPILOGUE: NAZI LEGACIES
    (pp. 236-250)

    At the end of the Second World War, newspapers and journals in the Allied countries were filled with all manner of suggestions as to the best ways in which the German people could be brought back into the civilised group of nations. In the area of music, the process of re-educating Germans to extirpate the most radical aspects of aggressive nationalism from their consciousness appeared on the surface to have reaped rapid and positive results. At the same time, as David Monod and Toby Thacker have recently highlighted, the Allied powers failed to implement a completely coordinated de-Nazification process with...

  15. APPENDIX I: Welcoming Address at the Mozart Week of the German Reich in Vienna at the Inaugural Concert on 28 November 1941
    (pp. 251-256)
    Baldur von Schirach
  16. APPENDIX II: Address for the 150th anniversary of the death of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart at the Vienna State Opera on 4 December 1941
    (pp. 257-261)
    Joseph Goebbels
  17. NOTES
    (pp. 262-296)
  18. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 297-308)
  19. INDEX
    (pp. 309-324)