Saturday, August 31, 2013

Music in Nazi Germany

Since the presentation Megan and I did on music in The Tin Drum was supposed to be limited to music in the post-war era, I didn't say much about music during the war.  Mrs. Quinet mentioned in class that Wagner, along with Beethoven, was particularly favored by the Nazi regime due to the legendary themes of his music that, conveniently for the Nazis, conjured up a mythic bellicose Nordic spirit (which, according to the Nazi leadership, Germany was in the process of reclaiming).  In The Tin Drum, Oskar describes seeing Wagner's opera The Flying Dutchman.  His masterpiece was Der Ring des Nibelungen, a cycle of 4 operas (and, taken as a whole, one of the longest pieces of music ever written) based on the German epic the Nibelungenlied, which was written around 1200 and is based on Norse sagas.  The following is from the second opera, Die Walk├╝re (the Valkyrie).  I chose it because it's familiar to most people, but the martial spirit that the Nazis were trying to inspire is evident in it.

Another composer we mentioned in class was Richard Strauss.  I think he gets a bad rap for doing projects for the Nazis; you can read more here but essentially even though he was initially a favorite he was uninterested in politics and he refused to comply with all of the Nazi demands. 

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