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The Music Survives! Degenerate Music: Music Suppressed by the Third Reich

Nobody could resist Johny Spielt Auf. In the ’20s, nobody could resist the bitterly yearning, ironically passionate modernist movement in any of the German-speaking countries. Some of the composers of the music on this disc were the toast of Weimar Germany and their music was performed in the great concert halls and opera houses of Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, the Sudentenland, the Rhine Valley, and Alsace-Lorraine. But after the Nazis seized power, their music was banned as degenerate and the composers were branded as dangerous. Within 15 years, most of them were in exile or forgotten, and many of them were dead. But, as the title of the disc says, The Music Survives! From the brilliantly lyrical Vorspiel to Braunfels’ Die Vögel through Death’s final Aria in Ullmann’s Der Kaiser von Atlantis, which was written in a concentration shortly before the composer and his wife were gassed, every work on this disc is astoundingly good. That music is as extravagantly sensual as the rapturous Aria from Korngold’s Das Wunder der Heliane or as profoundly disturbing as the love-death from Schreker’s Die Gezeichneten or as ecstatically joyous as the closing scene of Johny Spielt Auf could have been silenced is evidence of the vilest inhumanity. That the music survives is testimony to its transcendent humanity and sublime beauty. And that includes the singing sword and the factory whistle at the absurd climactic chorus of Johny. London’s sound is rich, warm, detailed, and just about real. ~ James Leonard, All Music Guide VHS. 36 minutes.


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