Music and musicians forbidden under the Third Reich

A radio program from the European Institute of Jewish Music, hosted by Hervé Roten

MUSIQUES JUIVES D’HIER ET D’AUJOURD’HUI – June 2, 2015, JUDAÏQUES FM (94.8), 21H05


On the occasion of the release of the book Entartete Musik : musiques interdites sous le IIIe Reich, Elise Petit – co-author of the book with Bruno Giner – will present a new light on the setting to music of Nazi ideology between 1933 and 1945.

« Entartete Musik », « degenerate music » : it is indeed under this infamous designation that we now know the music banned under the Third Reich. An expression that refers as much to the late Felix Mendelssohn and the young Kurt Weill or the champion of modernity Arnold Schönberg, without forgetting of course jazz and light music.

What is the common point of all these different music? The unlimited hatred of Hitler and his ministers to the Jews provides the main explanation. But among these “men to be killed” are also the Communists and the representatives of the modernity of the 1920’s, accused of cultural “Bolshevism” .

To the “degenerate music,” Nazi ideologists tried to oppose a National-Socialist music that brilliantly embodied the “millennial Reich” far beyond its borders. At first, they glorified and diverted the late masters of the great German tradition, mainly Wagner, Beethoven and Bruckner, but also two still living personalities, Richard Strauss and Hans Pfitzner. The many aids to creation then favored the advent of a string of young composers more or less talented, whose history hardly retained only Carl Orff and Werner Egk. The Volkslieder’s opera and popular repertoire was also used by a regime that became a true “singing dictatorship”.

A page of history, between official music and forbidden musicians, illustrated by many sound examples.

herve_photo_retouche_fond_uni_bleu_500px.jpgOfficer of the Ordre of Arts and letters, PhD in musicology at Paris University Sorbonne, prize-winning graduate from the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris, Hervé Roten is the director of the European Institute of Jewish Music since its creation in 2006.
Ethnomusicologist, he quickly developed an interest in the safeguard and digitization of archives, subjects he taught for several years in Reims and Marne-La-Vallée universities.
Author of many articles, books and recordings related to Jewish music, producer of radio programs, Hervé Roten is recognized today as one of the best specialists of Jewish music in the world.

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