Music after Hitler, 1945–1955  book cover
1st Edition

Music after Hitler, 1945–1955

ISBN 9781138274631
Published October 31, 2016 by Routledge
296 Pages

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Book Description

The political control of music in the Third Reich has been analysed from several perspectives, and with ever increasing sophistication. However, music in Germany after 1945 has not received anything like the same treatment. Rather, there is an assumption that two separate musical cultures emerged in East and West alongside the division of Germany into two states with differing economic and political systems. There is a widely accepted view of music in West Germany as 'free', and in the East subject to party control. Toby Thacker challenges these assumptions, asking how and why music was controlled in Germany under Allied Occupation from 1945-1949, and in the early years of 'semi-sovereignty' between 1949 and 1955. The 're-education' of Germany after the Hitler years was a unique historical experiment and the place of music within this is explored here for the first time. While emphasizing political, economic and broader social structures that influenced the production and reception of different musical forms, the book is informed by a sense of human agency, and explores the role of salient individuals in the reconstruction of music in post-war Germany. The focus is not restricted to any one kind of music, but concentrates on those aspects of music, professional and amateur, live and recorded, which appeared to be the mostly highly charged politically to contemporaries. Particular attention is given to 'denazification' and to the introduction of international music. Thacker traces the development of a divide between Communist and liberal-democratic understandings of the place of music in society. The contested celebrations of the Bach Year in 1950 are used to highlight the role of music in the broader cultural confrontation between East and West. Thacker examines the ways in which central governments in East and West Germany sought to control and influence music through mechanisms of censorship and positive support. The book will therefore be of interest not only to musicologists, but also to specialists in German post-war history and cultural historians in general.

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction. Part 1 Allied re-education, 1945-49: Music and regeneration; Denazification; Anti-fascism and music; 'Cultural freedom' or 'contemporary realism'? Part 2 New Musical Cultures, 1949-55: Bach 'shenanigans'; Music and state in Germany: 1950-55; Dance music: the enemy within?; Collaboration, confrontation, and infiltration; Conclusion: when music mattered. Bibliography and sources; Index.

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Toby Thacker is Lecturer in the School of History and Archaeology, Cardiff University, UK


'Toby Thacker’s Music after Hitler, 1945-1955 is a much needed, comprehensive examination of the murky history of musical life in post-war Germany, a complex matter that generated much more controversy and conflict than one would imagine. Going beyond existing studies of post-war cultural policies that pay little attention to music, or of the roles of the individual Allied forces or of musical life in specific locales, Music after Hitler, 1945-1955 draws on previously unavailable sources to weave together a carefully balanced comparative analysis of the diverse attitudes and policies of the four powers occupying Germany and of the Germans themselves. Most of all, Thacker calls our attention to the importance of music in both the Germans’ cultural heritage and the Allies’ perception of Germany’s cultural and political future, highlighting the unique treatment of musical matters in the period of the occupation and in the formative years of the two German states. In the process, Thacker succeeds in dispelling several myths, questioning long-held assumptions about the 'golden years' of Germany’s regeneration, the progressiveness of post-war musical tastes, and the fundamental differences between the musical ideals of East and West Germany. Pamela M. Potter, University of Wisconsin, USA ’...presents a very detailed description and analysis of disruptions and continuities in postwar German musical culture... Recommended.’ Choice ’ is perhaps surprising that Toby Thacker has so intricate and absorbing a story to tell. Yet the story is there, and its telling benefits greatly from Thacker's close focus on the archival and documentary materials that have survived...the book acts as a valuable corrective to the broad -brush generalizations found in sources like The New Grove... Thacker has the historian's capacity for persuasive interpretation of the results of this seemingly limitless burrowing into the vast array of archival materials that remain f