Cover image for Composers of the Nazi era : eight portraits
Composers of the Nazi era : eight portraits
Kater, Michael H., 1937-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Oxford University Press, 2000.
Physical Description:
xiii, 399 pages ; 24 cm
Werner Egk : the enigmatic opportunist -- Paul Hindemith : the reluctant emigré -- Kurt Weill : a survivor on two continents -- Karl Amadeus Hartmann : the composer as dissident -- Carl Orff : man of legend -- Hans Pfitzner : Magister Teutonicus Miser -- Arnold Schoenberg : musician of contrasts -- Richard Strauss : Jupiter compromised.
Reading Level:
1850 Lexile.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ML390 .K198 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Grosvenor Room
ML390 .K198 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating

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How does creativity thrive in the face of fascism? How can a highly artistic individual function professionally in so threatening a climate? Composers of the Nazi Era is the final book in a critically acclaimed trilogy that includes Different Drummers (OUP 1992) and The Twisted Muse (OUP 1997), which won the Wallace K. Ferguson Prize of the Canadian Historical Association. Here, historian Michael H. Kater provides a detailed study ofthe often interrelated careers of eight prominent German composers who lived and worked amid the dictatorship of the Third Reich, or were driven into exile by it: Werner Egk, Paul Hindemith, Kurt Weill, Karl Amadeus Hartmann, Carl Orff, Hans Pfitzner, Arnold Schoenberg, and Richard Strauss. Katerweighs issues of accommodation and resistance to ask whether these artists corrupted themselves in the service of a criminal regime--and if so, whether this may be discerned from their music. After chapters discussing the circumstances of each composer individually, Kater concludes with an analysisof the composers' different responses to the Nazi regime and an overview of the sociopolitical background against which they functioned. The final chapter also extends the discussion beyond the end of World War II to examine how the composers reacted to the new and fragile democracy inGermany.

Author Notes

Michael H. Kater is Distinguished Research Professor of History at the Centre for German and European Studies, York University, Toronto. He has published widely on modern Germany and is a Guggenheim Fellow as well as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

With this volume, Kater has completed a remarkable trilogy of books about music during the Nazi era. This final book, the logical successor to The Twisted Muse (LJ 1/97), focuses on the works and activities of eight German/Austrian composersÄEgk, Hindemith, Weill, Hartmann, Orff, Pfitzner, Schoenberg, and StraussÄand their relationships to the people and politics of the Third Reich. Each is given his own chapter, with a telling subtitle (e.g., "Werner Egk: The Enigmatic Opportunist") that summarizes Kater's view of the composer's degree of complicity, acquiescence, or, all too rarely, principled opposition to the Nazi regime. Complexities and contradictions abound, but overall the reputations of Egk, Hindemith, Orff, and the odious Pfitzner suffer, while that of Richard Strauss, perhaps surprisingly, is somewhat restored. Secondary players, such as Thomas Mann, Wilhelm Furtw„ngler, and Joseph Goebbels, make frequent appearances; indeed, the entire socio-politico-musical landscape of post-Weimar Germany is as thoroughly and engagingly chronicled as the achievements of the individual composers. Kater, as usual, is rigorous in his attention to detail; his research is up-to-date, and his conclusions are persuasive. This bookÄindeed, the entire trilogyÄshould be a part of every collection.ÄLarry Lipkis, Moravian Coll., Bethlehem, PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

The last in Kater's trilogy on music in the Third Reich (Different Drummers, CH, Oct'92, a study of jazz, and The Twisted Muse, CH, Sep'97), this book draws on private papers to explore how Werner Egk, Karl Amadeus Hartmann, Paul Hindemith, Carl Orff, Rana Pfitzner, Arnold Schoenberg, Richard Strauss, and Kurt Weill coped with the political reality of the Nazi cultural establishment. Readers--including those acquainted with Pamela M. Potter's Most German of the Arts (CH, Feb'99)--might wish to begin with Kater's concluding reflections on how these composers could be categorized, including the observation that "nothing in the German mind defined Kulture so quintessentially as German music." Despite his exhaustive research (documented by 1,768 footnotes), Kater seems to have found no "Deep Throat" or "smoking gun." Particularly telling is his observation that immediately following the war few artists were left to educate or reeducate the citizenry; the "cultural elite had been chased out, killed off, or compromised." Many artists had been opportunists; some lied blatantly in an attempt to hide their past. Occasional infelicities mar the narrative: "vain" for "vein"; "still lives" for "still lifes"; "the composer's death ... put an appropriate end to...." For large collections serving general readers; upper-division undergraduates through faculty; professionals. J. Behrens; University of Western Ontario

Table of Contents

1 Werner Egk: The Enigmatic Optimist
2 Paul Hindemith: The Reluctant Emigri
3 Kurt Weill: A Survivor on Two Continents
4 Karl Amadeus Hartmann: The Composer as Dissident
5 Carl Orff: Man of Legend
6 Hans Pfitzner: Magister Teutonicus Miser
7 Arnold Schoenberg: Musician of Contrasts
8 Richard Strauss: Jupiter Compromised