IAGMR Online

The reception of Beethoven’s Music in Occupied Europe during World War II

Erik Levi delivered a paper on Beethoven interpreters, conductor Hermann Abendroth and pianist Elly Ney, and their role as agents of Nazi cultural transfer throughout occupied Europe between 1939 and 1945, at the first international workshop for the research forum “The reception of Beethoven’s Music in Occupied Europe during World War II” which took place at the Beethovenhaus in Bonn in early September 2022. The project, organised by research director Professor Michael Custodis at the University of Münster in collaboration with the Beethovenhaus, brought together distinguished scholars from all over Europe and from many different nations, and in a jam-packed workshop that spread over three days many fascinating topics were explored.            

A website detailing this exciting project is accessible at https://musicandresistance.net/beethoven-in-nazi-occupied-europe/ and a series of podcasts featuring some of the academics who are involved in the project is being made available.   

A summary of the aims and objectives of the research project  is presented below:

Although cultural life in various Nazi-occupied countries manifested distinctive differences in outlook between 1939 and 1945, partially accountable to specific national traditions and their historical and ideological relationship to German music and the political situation, one factor that appears to bind all musical activity in these areas is the consistent presence of the music of Ludwig van Beethoven. The underlying motivations for giving Beethoven’s music special emphasis are as different as musical life in dictatorships and the occupied territories is controversial. Thus Beethoven was honoured not only in official propaganda and military events, as well as in innumerable public concerts, but was also venerated in clandestine and resistance music making and in enforced circumstances in concentration camps. That Beethoven was able to serve the needs of the diametrically opposed ideological agendas of the German imperialists and the resistance movement is in itself a remarkable and unique phenomenon. It is undoubtedly a topic that warrants far more detailed scrutiny that hitherto, and for this reason a team of international researchers has been brought together with the experts of the Beethoven-Haus in Bonn to examine Beethoven reception during this problematic period in the greatest possible detail for an anthology scheduled for the upcoming Beethoven-year 2027.

This project has five specific aims:

  1. To reconstruct the presence and purpose of Beethoven’s music amongst others in Belgium, Croatia, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Estonia, France, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, and Poland.
  2. To examine the importance of persecuted musicians as cultural ambassadors of an alternative, anti-Nazi Germany for example in Swedish and Swiss exile.
  3. To understand the reasons why some pieces were of special importance and to what extent this predilection for certain repertoire resonated with long-established traditions that may, or may not have been specific to a particular country.
  4. To learn whether this focus on Beethoven reception can lead to a more nuanced understanding of musical life in the occupied territories and their relationship to German culture. 
  5. To ascertain whether the politicization of Beethoven during this period may have influenced the reception of the composer’s music in post-war Europe where once again Beethoven’s music played an important role in determining cultural diplomacy and international collaboration. 

The Wagner Society Zoom Events, January – July 2021.

The Wagner Society are excited to announce the launch of their Zoom Events season for January to July 2021. Bookings for the events can now be made via the society website, and a copy of the full programme can be downloaded via the link below.

Events cost £5 to all members (including all non-UK Wagner Societies), £10 for non-members (refundable on joining) and free for students/under 30s.

Please book on our website: https://wagnersociety.org

‘Arnold and Alma Rosé – icons of pre-war Viennese musical life’ at the Austrian Cultural Forum

The IAGMR’s Deputy Director, Beth Snyder, will be moderating this fantastic online event hosted by the Austrian Cultural Forum. Please see below for further details and how to register:

The Austrian Cultural Forum London is honoured to present a special virtual evening exploring the lives of Austrian musicians Arnold and Alma Rosé to mark Holocaust Memorial Day on 27 January.

Join us for an insightful conversation between Holocaust survivor and cellist Anita Lasker-Wallfisch, the director of the House of Austrian History Monika Sommer, and historians Heidemarie Uhl and Michaela Raggam-Blesch. The session will be moderated by musicologist Beth Snyder.

The event will take place on Zoom.

Please click here to register and to receive a Zoom invitation with further instructions on how to join on the day of the event.

Review: IAGMR Symposium, 4th November 2020

By Frankie Perry, Royal Holloway, University of London

The Symposium of 4th November was the inaugural event of the Institute of Austrian and German Music Research, a network established in 2019 and based at the University of Surrey, which aims to ‘revise, rethink, and renew’ scholarly understanding of repertoires and musical cultures linked to German-speaking lands from, roughly, the 18th century to the present day. The event was well attended by a mix of senior and junior scholars, research students, performers, and musicians from beyond academia.

Two concerts were integrated into the Symposium, bookending the day, with both acting as points of reference as the event progressed. The first was streamed from the Royal Academy of Music, with conductor Ed Liebrecht introducing a performance of three Alma Mahler-Werfel songs arranged for string orchestra by Joy Lisney, followed by Liebrecht’s own chamber arrangement of the opening Adagio from Gustav Mahler’s tenth symphony. It was a particular treat to hear the three songs in this guise – they are heard rarely enough on the concert stage in their original voice-piano version, let alone in arrangement. While Lisney’s arrangement involved illuminating expansion, Liebrecht worked in the opposite direction, joining a long line of Mahlerian miniaturists who have relished the challenge of distilling his enormous orchestral textures for chamber forces. At the end of the Symposium, we heard music by Egon Wellesz (Cello Sonata, Op. 31) and Berthold Goldschmidt (Variations on a Palestine Shepherd’s Song, Op. 32), both of whom had widely influential musical careers in Britain following their exile from (respectively) Austria and Germany in the 1930s, but whose compositional work remains neglected in performing canons. This concert was given by Royal College of Music players, and streamed in association with the RCM’s AHRC-funded project ‘Music, Migration & Mobility’.

Whether by chance or by design, the focus of several of the Symposium’s sessions coalesced around the effects and legacies of Nazism, providing a welcome sense of continuity. After an introduction to the IAGMR presented by its Director, Jeremy Barham, the Institute’s honorary president Erik Levi (RHUL), a leading authority in this field, gave a paper on some ways in which music was used as a ‘vital accessory of foreign policy’ during the Third Reich. After the tea break, themes from Florian Scheding’s (Bristol) work on displaced musicians in the twentieth century came to the fore at several points during his joint talk on ‘Canonicity and Victimhood’. And in the middle of the day, Beth Snyder (RCM) introduced some of the work currently being undertaken by the ‘Music, Migration & Mobility’ project, for which she is Research Associate on an international and interdisciplinary team.

A central session involved introductions to the IAGMR’s deputy-directors, Beth Snyder and Genevieve Arkle (Surrey). Snyder spoke with a catching enthusiasm about her ongoing research into the productive ways in which musicologists and music historians might draw upon the musical and philosophical thought of Ernst Bloch. A short talk was then given on the topic of Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion in music research and education by Arkle, who has spoken widely at EDI events this year and is demonstrably knowledgeable, experienced, and passionate about the pressing need to address these issues. Arkle’s thoughtful call for reflection and action was followed by a musicological paper of her own – a deep dive into the appearance of the turn motif, in its Wagnerian mediation, in Gustav Mahler’s symphonic writing. If there was a tendency for the Q&A to verge, on the part of the audience, into turn-spotting in other Wagner and Mahler scores, Arkle managed to recentre the discussion to consider bigger pictures: for one, that there are enticing possibilities for scholars of musical semiotics to be found within this developing corner of the late-nineteenth-century topical universe.

A highlight, for me, was the jovial and meaty joint address given by two invited speakers, Natasha Loges (RCM) and Scheding. In addition to their vibrant dialogue on various issues circling around canonicity, the duo highlighted the productive challenges of putting together a joint presentation, recommending such collaborative working to musicologists as a way of fostering illuminating exchanges of perspective and expertise, and also as welcome respite from the often solitary nature of musicological activity. The concluding Q&A session was replete with wide-reaching discussion, touching upon issues of defining nationhood; ideas for specific ways Austrian and German music could be ‘rethought’ historically, theoretically, and analytically; and recent challenges being made to the centrality of canonic repertoire to curricula in UK and US music departments, to name a few of the more lively talking points. The creation of the IAGMR feels timely, and I look forward to seeing what comes next.

Frankie Perry is completing her PhD at Royal Holloway. Her research focuses on arrangements and reimaginings of nineteenth-century lieder in the twenty-first century, and broader interests include reception histories of nineteenth-century music, completions of unfinished music, transcription and arrangement studies, and song studies. She has presented widely at conferences with papers on reimaginings of Schubert, Schumann, Mahler, and Brahms.

Publishing with Musicologica Austriaca

Please find below some links to the Musicologica Austriaca website and information on proposals for special issues and shorter discussion papers, which the journal editors welcome receiving: 

Journal website: www.musau.org

Parameters for submitting special issue proposals, and 1000-5000 word discussion papers, which are intended as “preferably provocative and/or inventive contributions aimed at stimulating scholarly discussion”, and which align with the IAGMR’s aim to rethink composers, canons, or scholarly traditions:  http://www.musau.org/for-authors/instructions-for-authors/
Discussion papers allow in-line comments by verified users, and are designed to encourage exchange between scholars.

Peer review procedures:  http://www.musau.org/for-authors/peer-review-procedure/

Please click the link below to download the Musicologica Austriaca flyer with more information.

IAGMR Symposium, November 2020: Performances from the Royal Academy of Music

The inaugural research event held by the IAGMR on November 4, 2020, was prefaced by this performance given by members of the Royal Academy of Music in London, featuring the soprano soloist Danni O’Neill and conducted by Ed Liebrecht.

Part of the IAGMR’s ethos is both to focus on less familiar Austrian and German repertoire, especially that by female composers, and to consider well-known repertoire in new ways. This performance does both of these things.

First, it includes three songs by Alma Mahler, wife of Gustav, who in her early years studied composition with Josef Labor and Zemlinsky, and was beginning to produce vocal settings of some of her favourite modernist poetry – for example, the sensuous and erotic works of Rainer Maria Rilke, Otto Bierbaum, and Richard Dehmel (whose poetic recitations she attended) – until, at Gustav’s insistence, she put aside her artistic ambitions in order to conform to the prevailing social dictates of a ‘dutiful’ early twentieth-century spouse.

Secondly, the ensemble performs Ed Liebrecht’s chamber arrangement of the first movement of Gustav’s 10th Symphony. Reduced-orchestra arrangements of Mahler’s music form a venerable tradition that goes back to Schoenberg’s Society for Private Musical Performance formed in 1918. Schoenberg himself produced such versions of Mahler’s Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen and (unfinished) Das Lied von der Erde, while his student Erwin Stein arranged the 4th Symphony. Here, Liebrecht’s version reveals different textural, and indeed historical, aspects of Mahler’s late symphonic movement, especially in the allegro sections which take on a more acerbic, modernist hue.

Meet the Executive Board: Deputy-Director Dr. Beth Snyder

In this blog series we are sharing some of the recent research outputs, projects and activities of our executive board members. This week, we are introducing our Deputy-Director Dr. Beth Snyder. Beth is a Research Associate at the Royal College of Music and has previously worked as an Associate Lecturer at the University of Surrey. You can read more about Beth’s work and publications here, but here’s a short introduction to what she’s working on at the moment:

“I am currently serving as Research Associate on an AHRC-funded team project, ‘Music, Migration and Mobility,’ that investigates the geographical and social mobilities of musicians who migrated to Britain from Europe during the 1930s and 1940s. In exploring the varieties of musical creativity engaged in by these individuals, we seek to contribute to both a transformation of the migrant/native dichotomy as well as to a complication of nationalist narratives of music historiography. Work on the project is paused during the pandemic, but Principle Investigator, Norbert Meyn, and I are excited to be meeting (via Zoom) with our focus group comprised of lovely and talented student musicians at the Royal College of Music. The students have been exploring overlooked repertoire by migrant composers, including Egon Wellesz, Mátyás Seiber and Hans Gál. Although planned performances by the students—in venues such as the British Museum and Austrian Cultural Forum—have been postponed for now, we hope to find future opportunities for the performance of this beautiful and challenging repertoire.”

Rudolf Wagner-Régeny

“I am revising an article that contends with the genesis and complicated reception history of Rudolf Wagner-Régeny’s (sadly overlooked) 1959 Prometheus opera. Wagner-Régeny was, at the time, the most renowned composer of opera living in the German Democratic Republic. Yet his Prometheus became something of a political football—premiering in the West German city of Kassel (it’s composition having been partially funded by a grant from the FRG), but promoted by an East German government that saw in its premiere an opportunity to champion socialist culture in the West. Wagner-Régeny had other ideas.”

“I’m also working on another article that explores the non-hedonic theory of artistic value developed in German philosopher Ernst Bloch’s eccentric philosophy of music. Bloch founds his theory in part on Marx’s comments regarding the intimate relationship between artistic practices and social and economic structures, comments that suggest a non-hedonic explanation of the value of creative praxis—one that privileges art’s ethical import. Bloch’s own provocative theory of music’s significance to social progress, which radically expands on Marx’s non-hedonic theory, is unusual in its emphasis on music’s central role in the realisation of human potential. As such it can speak to any and all musicians and scholars attempting to rethink the relationship between music and society.”

“I’ve also been reading Emily Wilson’s insanely good translation of Homer’s The Odyssey, which has gotten me thinking about literary and (auto)biographical portrayals of travel and mobility, and how 20th- and 21st-century travelogues and novels can both resonate with Homer’s poem and transform our notions of what it means to be mobile. And I’ve been re-reading Naomi Waltham-Smith’s challenging and rewarding Music and Belonging Between Revolution and Restoration, which I reviewed earlier this year for Eighteenth-Century Music. Waltham-Smith constructs an ingenious dialogue between postmodern philosophy and the Viennese classicism of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, in order to demonstrate how procedures of inclusion and exclusion might be disrupted through listening to this music. It is such a momentous project, and I’m not fully convinced that she can draw the connections she needs between the repertoire and her remarkably ambitious political project. But I am so intrigued by her deft and insightful attempts to do so that I keep returning to the book again and again.”

Meet the Executive Board Members: Honorary President Prof. Erik Levi

In this blog series we are sharing some of the recent research outputs, projects and activities of our executive board members. This week, we are introducing our Honorary President Prof. Erik Levi. Erik is a Visiting Professor in Music at Royal Holloway, having formerly been Professor of Music and Director of Performance at Holloway until 2015.

He has interests both in the academic and practical aspects of music, having become a worldwide authority on German music of the 20th century, especially during the Nazi era, with the pioneering books Music in the Third Reich (1994) and Mozart and the Nazis (2010). You can read more about Erik’s work and publications here, and here is a short introduction to what he’s working on at the moment:

Josef Reiter (1862-1939)

“I am currently researching the infiltration of Nazi musicians and Nazi cultural policies  on Austrian musical life during the late 1920s and 1930s (pre- Anschluss) with the hope of turning this material either into a conference paper or a chapter in a book . The central focus at this juncture is on two musicians, composer Josef Reiter (1862-1939), whose Goethe Symphony  carries a dedication to Adolf Hitler and was performed a number of times in Austria and Germany especially during the early 1930s, and the conductor Leopold Reichwein (1878-1945) who was instrumental in founding the illegal Kampfbund für deutsche Kultur Orchestra in Vienna in 1933.”

“In tandem with this research, I also want to explore long-standing musical links with other countries in the former Austro-Hungarian Empire during this period (including the Balkans) and assess to what extent shared political values of national fascism impinged upon the kind of repertory from these countries that was regularly promoted in Austria during this period. Once again this material might be the subject of a conference paper or a chapter in a book.”

Emil Nikolaus von Reznicek (1860-1945)

“I am also engaged on writing a chapter in a book dedicated to the memory of the musicologist Robert Pascall on the music of Emil Nikolaus von Reznicek (1860-1945), a late-Romantic Austrian composer who for a time was acknowledged as a serious rival to both Mahler and Strauss.”      

“Finally, together with Jeremy, I am trying to establish a book series in conjunction with the IAGMR and Routledge on Austro-German music.”

Meet the Executive Board Members: Director, Prof. Jeremy Barham

In this blog series we are sharing some of the recent research outputs, projects and activities of our executive board members, beginning with our Director, Jeremy Barham. Jeremy is a Professor of Music at the University of Surrey, (you can read more about his work at Surrey here) and here’s a short introduction to what he’s working on at the moment:

“I am currently editing and writing for the Routledge Companion to Global Film Music in the Early Sound Era. This is a 50-chapter, internationally authored collection that investigates the coming of film sound across the world, outside of North America, and covering Europe, Latin America, Africa, and Asia (including Russia). It unearths vast amounts of little-known film and music repertoire, discusses the local, national and transnational qualities of filmmaking in this era, and lays the foundation for a rebalancing of film music studies away from US-centric discourse. Based on archival research undertaken in Berlin and Wiesbaden, my own contributions address early German sound films from the perspective of diegetic and generic complexities in the usage of music in so-called Tonfilmoperetten, as well as representations of female protagonists in dramas such as Alraune (1930), Zwischen Nacht und Morgen (1931), and Das blaue Licht (1932).”

“I am also working on the monograph Post-Centenary Mahler: Revaluing Musical Meaning. This project addresses prevailing assumptions and significant gaps in understanding by re-theorizing how Mahler’s transgressive, refractory output may have meaning. It rethinks Mahler’s radical dialogues with tradition and with repertoire he conducted, in cross-disciplinary contexts of Austro-German-Bohemian socio-political identities; musico-literary and gendered topics of march and dance; divergent late-idealist and materialist philosophies; contemporaneous dynamic psychological and musical theory; models of narrative, reception and authorship; and aesthetics of melodrama and cinema.”

“A third project involves the translation of scholarly work on Mahler written in Russian, co-edited with Prof Yulia Kreinin of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The purpose of this volume is to provide critical, annotated English translations of the work of leading Russian Mahler scholars active between 1932 and 2019, and little known in the West. This substantial body of important scholarly literature on Mahler stretches from the monograph by Ivan Sollertinsky (1932), through the work of the 20th-century’s most prominent Russian Mahlerian Inna Barsowa, to that of later generations of scholars spearheaded by Daniil Petrov. The texts selected for publication address a range of topics, from Mahler’s conducting activities in Russia, his interaction with and influence on Russian composers, and historical and analytical studies of his music and cultural context, in order to fill a substantial gap in the international understanding of the composer.”

“I recently gave visiting lectures on Mahler to postgraduate conducting students at the Royal Academy of Music in London: first on Mahler’s ‘arrangement’ of Beethoven 9, then on Mahler’s relationship with musical modernism, and thirdly on Mahler’s own 9th Symphony. I also recently completed my seventh set of CD notes for BIS records’ complete Mahler cycle with the Minnesota Orchestra conducted by Osmo Vänskä, on the Tenth Symphony. Previous symphonies in the series include 1, 2, 4, 5, 6 and 7.”

“I’m also putting together a journal issue on Mahler and Gender / Sexuality, and invite expressions of interest: j.barham@surrey.ac.uk

Our Support for the BLM Movement and Commitment to EDI

In light of recent events surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement and in recognition of the countless struggles for equality and freedom that continue across the world, we would like to express our sympathy and support for all those who suffer at the hands of oppression or discrimination, wherever and whoever they may be.

As part of a privileged Western academic culture which continues to be lacking in ethnic, racial, and other forms of diversity, the IAGMR reaffirms its commitment to cultivating an inclusive space for scholarly research through embracing the University of Surrey’s principles of equality and diversity as enshrined in the Race Equality Charter, the Athena SWAN Charter, the Disability Confident scheme, and through support of LGBTQ+ communities.

We will be regularly evaluating and reflecting on the measures we can take to address these issues as we develop our academic activities.

To all individuals and societal groups who have ever felt marginalised or unwelcome in the world of music academia and higher education, we welcome your voices and are determined to support you in whatever way possible in order to provide a conducive space for all in our ongoing exploration and rethinking of Austrian and German music.

With best wishes, and hoping that you all remain safe and well during these turbulent times.

The IAGMR Board

Prof Jeremy Barham
Prof Erik Levi
Dr Beth Snyder
Genevieve Robyn Arkle

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