- The Weimar era was especially rich in musical performance and ex-perimentation. In chamber music, musical theater,* opera proper, music festi-vals, symphonic concerts, and cabaret* productions, Weimar sustained a lush tapestry of offerings. In his cultural history, Walter Laqueur described the era's musical life: "Germany was the country of the leading conductors, the finest orchestras and soloists; its schools provided the most progressive musical edu-cation, and the general level of musical appreciation was of the very highest. Berlin s* 1929 Festwoche (festival week) gives evidence of the splendid range of offerings: Erich Kleiber* directed Die Meistersinger at the Staatsoper on Unter den Linden; Das Rheingold and Die Walkure were offered under the direction of Leo Blech; Der Rosenkavalier and Salome were directed by their composer, Richard Strauss*; Kleiber conducted Don Pasquale; Bruno Walter* conducted Das Lied von der Erde at the City Opera; The Marriage of Figaro was directed by Wilhelm Furtwangler*; Georg Szell conducted Giordano's An-drea Chenier; both The Flying Dutchman and Paul Hindemith's* Neues von Tage were offered by Otto Klemperer* at the Kroll Opera; and Arturo Toscanini directed Rigoletto, Lucia di Lammermoor, Manon Lescaut, and Aida. In addi-tion, symphonic concerts were led by Toscanini and Igor Stravinsky, Georg Schumann conducted a performance of Bach s B-minor Mass, and chamber music was offered with Pablo Casals. Although Berlin was a musical mecca— the city, supporting three opera houses, provided lavish possibilities throughout the year—abundant symphonic and operatic offerings were also at hand in Ba-den-Baden, Bayreuth, Breslau, Cologne, Dresden, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Ham-burg, Hanover, Konigsberg, Leipzig, Munich, and Stuttgart.Music composition provoked turmoil during the Weimar years, due largely to two overlapping generations. The romantic tradition survived in the work of Strauss, who even before the war had abandoned his early experimentation in favor of tranquil creativity (e.g., Der Rosenkavalier). Hans Pfitzner* was also an exponent of prewar romanticism. The rich harmonies of Strauss or Pfitzner (e.g., Palestrina) differed from the sound of Ferruccio Busoni,* whose neoro-manticism sometimes lapsed into the experimental. Busoni s successor in 1925 at the Prussian Academy of Arts was Arnold Schoenberg.* But while Schoen-berg s twelve-tone composition sparked controversy, his work was almost totally rejected at the time. Instead, the preferred avant-garde composer was Hindemith. Beginning with his 1923 adaptation of Rainer Maria Rilke s Marienleben, Hin-demith s work adopted features of traditional tonality. Kurt Weill,* one of Bu-soni's students, wrote his celebrated compositions during 1927-1933 (The Threepenny Opera, Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, and The Seven Deadly Sins). Working with Bertolt Brecht,* he directed his snappy songs, which drew on jazz and street ballad, toward a mass audience; they thus became part of popular culture.In the area of popular culture, cabaret flourished during the Republic. But although music, mainly songs or chansons, was important to cabaret, social satire was at its heart. The concept of "applied music" or Gebrauchsmusik, analogous to the concept of applied arts as exemplified by the Bauhaus,* also prospered in the mid-1920s. With roots in the Singmusik and Spielmusik of the early youth movement, Gebrauchsmusik was integral to the light opera of Hindemith and Weill. Under the NSDAP it deteriorated into the ceremonial folk opera per-formed at numerous spectacles.Despite the enmity of antimodernists and nationalists (see Kulturbolschewis-mus), the Republic s musical life was receptive and outward looking. In Berlin, where radio sustained experimentation, Alban Berg s Wozzeck was performed in 1925, Darius Milhaud s Christophe Colomb in 1930, and Stravinsky s Violin Concerto in 1931. The new music was promoted in almost every German city, from the opera house in Frankfurt to the annual music festivals in Donaues-chingen. But since most of it failed to fit the NSDAP's definition of "German-ness, it was banned after January 1933 as entartete Musik (degenerate music).REFERENCES:Gilliam, Music and Performance; Laqueur, Weimar; New Grove, vol. 7, "Germany ; Roseberry, "Into the Twentieth Century ; Russell, Erich Kleiber.
A Historical dictionary of Germany's Weimar Republic, 1918-1933. C. Paul Vincent.
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