Imagining "Jewish music" in Nazi Germany : the Berlin Judischer Kulturbund and musical politics, 1933-1941 / by Lily E. Hirsch.
This dissertation examines the controversial Berlin Jüdischer Kulturbund (Jewish Culture League). Specifically, I analyze the paradoxes of its founding, which was the first musical-organizational act after Hitler's rise to power, and how it functioned in Nazi Germany from 1933-1941. By examining the League's dynamic debate about the contested concept "Jewish music," my investigation treats the organization as a lens onto the imagining of "Jewish music" during this period. Given the interdisciplinary nature of this topic, I have employed multiple methodological strategies, including interviews with former members of the League, and close readings of contemporary newspaper articles and League documents held at the Akademie der Künste in Berlin and at the Leo Baeck Institute, New York. I also analyze the League's musical repertoire—approaching the musical programs as a collection of musical objects that narrate stories about the interests, experiences, and cultural values of their collectors. Several key composers serve this aim and form the basis of case studies: Franz Schubert, George Frideric Handel, Giuseppe Verdi, Felix Mendelssohn, Gustav Mahler, Kurt Weill, Arnold Schoenberg, and Ernest Bloch. The reception of these composers in the League sheds light on their reception in Nazi Germany as a whole, a relationship I highlight throughout the dissertation in order to further an understanding of musical politics in the Third Reich. These case studies demonstrate the complications and contradictions involved in defining "Jewish music," and thus present not only a significant challenge to the idea of fixed national borders in music, but also a means of examining their construction in a particular time and place.
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