All in Class: Degenerate Music
On this date in 1917, Alexander Zemlinsky’s Eine florentinische Tragödie (A Florentine Tragedy) was premiered in Stuttgart. It is the first of two operas that Zemlinsky (1871-1942) based upon the works of Oscar Wilde. Der Zwerk (The Dwarf) followed in 1922.
I recently promised to devote special attention on this site to Entartete Musik (music deemed “degenerate” in the Third Reich). My first subject is Viktor Ullmann, a composition student of Schoenberg, a conducting protege of Zemlinsky, and a leader of musical life in the Terezin concentration camp before being murdered in Auschwitz in September 1944. Our Ullmann Resource Guide is still taking shape, but I wanted to offer this unique preview from my YouTube travels.
Like so many other classical music lovers, musicians, and bloggers, I too am impressed by the new book by Alex Ross, “The Rest is Noise”, and am enjoying this perceptive, engaging and big spirited work. But I would like to comment on a suggestion or appraisal made in the book concerning the deep difficulties a listener faces with Schoenbergian atonality — and I don’t dispute for a second that many fair minded listeners have difficulties with Schoenberg and his atonal colleagues and progeny. Schoenberg understood this as well.