Jazz echoes : the cultural and sociopolitical reception of jazz in Weimar and Nazi Berlin, 1925-1939 / by Joshua Sternfeld.
For the many cultural historical treatments of Weimar Germany's "Golden Years" and the descent into National Socialism, little scholarship has examined the performance and reception of jazz, the era's representative sound. This project argues that Germans demonstrated during both periods a multivariate understanding of jazz. Cultural officials, music critics, artists, and audiences all participated in adapting the music to conform to traditional tastes. This process of cultivating jazz sought to control or eliminate key musical qualities such as "hot playing," tempo, and syncopation deemed aesthetically and ideologically inconsistent with German custom.The project spans the Weimar and Nazi periods from 1925-1939 in order to investigate key cultural and sociopolitical continuities. Rather than handle jazz reception from a national context, it treats Berlin as the point of origin for music production, weaving the city's real and imagined urban character—defined as its "soundscape"—into broader issues including race, labor, and consumerism. Three key popular music journals of the period, Der Artist, Das Deutsche Podium, and Musik-Echo provide the foundation for a detailed analysis of German jazz discourse, supplemented by recordings, government records, memoirs, and other primary materials.Berlin's entertainment scene prospered until the outbreak of the war in the city's coffeehouses and dance halls, which became a fiercely contested sociopolitical site. Chapter 2 examines the aesthetic and performative criteria that contributed to fashioning German-style dance music. Chapter 3 handles the racialization of jazz according to Germany's long history of Negrophobia. Chapter 4 addresses a hitherto unexamined area: the socioeconomic status of the typical entertainment musician as Angestellte, or white-collared employee. Chapter 5 reexamines these issues during the Nazi period, arguing that the consolidation of cultural production created unforeseen difficulties in regulating jazz reception through recordings and live performance. Chapter 6 concludes with a reconstruction of the Nazi Berlin soundscape, focusing on performers, venues, and anti-Semitic activity that culminated with the 1938 riots known as Kristallnacht. More than an intellectualized symbol of primitivism or degeneration, the German jazz experience was comprised of performance practices, memories, and contested music traditions.
Record last modified: 2018-05-18 16:20:00
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