Music and politics in the IIIrd Reich Germany at the eve of the Cold War

Published in 2018 at the Presses universitaires of Paris-Sorbonne, this book by Elise Petit presents an original analysis of musical politics in Germany between 1933 and 1949.

This richly-documented book, coming in part from a PhD of History of Music written by the author in November 2012, offers an original analysis of the musical politics in Germany, since the arrival of Adolf Hitler at the head of the country in 1933 until the formation of two politic entities in 1949 in the context of the Cold War. The study of the politics executed under the Third Reich shows how the notion of purity determined musical life and creation, from the Aryanisation of composers of great tradition such as Wagner and Beethoven until the search for an impossible "Nazi" music. The analysis of the power between the main cultural protagonists of the Reich, in particular the propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, and the ideologue of the Nazi party, Alfred Rosenberg, brings to light the very strong incoherent aspects of a system that will forge the concept of "degenerated music", without banishing it totally.

After the war, musical creation is nourished by the conflicts between the Allies while the Cold war is profiling. The struggle between these influences and the beginnings of our consumer society, create a new particular context which allows the establishment of the Darmstadt School and festivals of contemporary music, but also the surprising reintegration of prejudiced musicians in the Nazi regime.

By studying regimes which, finally, build themselves by mutual opposition, Elise Petit brings to light the wills or utopias of destruction within musical politics. She questions the possibility of breakage in the artistic field while it is related to politics and brings us to think again the notions of " Zero Hour " and tabula rasa in XXth century Germany.

A thrilling book which shows how music, and art more generally, can be used by ideologies as a tool for propaganda or the reeducation of the popular masses. Frightening and instructive !

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About the author
Élise Petit is a music professor and a PhD in History of Music.
Her works speak about the relations between politics and music in Germany in the XXth century. She thinks about the place of music under the Third Reich and in concentration camps. She co-wrote with Bruno Giner in 2015 the book Entartete Musik. Forbidden music under the IIIrd Reich.
She also studies the musical politics after the Second World War and during the Cold War. About that, she supervised the book Artistic creation in occupied Germany (1945-1949) : Aesthetic and politic issues (2015), which discusses not only music, but also theatre, literature, cinema and graphic arts.

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