Sprechen und Singen im Dramma-Oratorium: Zu Jeanne d’Arc au bûcher (Paul Claudel / Arthur Honegger) und Thyl Claes (Wladimir Vogel)
It is no accident that two famous musical works created in the dark times of tyrannies before and during World War II belong to the genre of “dramma-oratorio” that, combining speaking and singing, is neither (pure) drama nor (pure) oratorio. When in the twentieth century, following Brecht, “a talk on trees nearly is a crime”, what then is a song, based on the beauty of its melody? Speaking therefore possibly appears to be a remedy that enables art to remain in contact with the spheres of politics and everyday life. The two works put in the center of the dramma-oratorio a dying hero, one historical, the other one fictitious: Joan of Arc, a French catholic heroine in the fight against England during the fifteenth century, on the one hand, and Thyl Claes, fils de Kolldraeger, modelled according de Coster’s novel Thyl Ulenspiegel, a picaresque Flemish hero in the fight against Spanish catholic occupation during the sixteenth century, on the other hand. Both works make use of historical aspects for depicting present conflicts, in both speaking signify a sound metaphor for the dark political times of twentieth century-tyrannies, as well as an expression of forces in opposition to those tyrannies. And it is neither an accident that both works were created in Switzerland, a country not involved in World War II: Honegger’s Jeanne d’Arc au bucher in Basel in 1938, Vogels’s Thyl Claes in Geneva in 1943-1947.
Towards the end of the nineteenth century, the Romanian musicians and clergy became interested in the connections between the Romanian nation and its church music. The widely shared view was that Byzantine music had been adjusted to the Romanian language and spirit, shedding its Turkish features and acquiring a national character. Between the two world wars, the thinking on this national character became more varied and nuanced. Some authors carried on the prewar discourse and sought the national character of church chanting in secular peasant music. Others placed race at the center of the debate and argued that the Romanians’ musical conception (of Latin race) is linear, and the most appropriate texture for their music is polyphonic. A third category was interested not in the national particularities of Romanian music, but in its old Byzantine roots, advocating their restoration.
The “Invisible Generation” of Polish Composers Born at the Turn of the Twentieth Century: On the Example of Michał Spisak and Karol Rathaus
The essay looks at the careers and music of selected Polish composers born at the turn of the twentieth century, who – under various circumstances – chose to live and work abroad, and consequently became forgotten in their native country during the dark, communistic regime. Their artistic oeuvre was neither debated nor analyzed, treated as degenerated and ignored, especially in the realm of Polish musicological discourse before 1990s. Can we talk about these composers as the representatives of the “invisible generation”? On the examples of Michał Spisak and Karol Rathaus but also Aleksander Tansman, Roman Palester and Andrzej Panufnik the chapter discusses the possibility of applying the term “invisible generation” to these – seemingly different – Polish composers, whose reception in their fatherland in the post WW reality was overshadowed by the political situation.
During the twentieth century, the Romanian culture and art were inevitably affected by the totalitarian regimes installed in Romania. The first notable ideological annexation came to pass when Romania, an ally of Germany during the Second World War, copied partially the Nazi model (1940-1944); the second came into being with the onset of Communism in 1947 and thrived until 1989, with inevitable instances of continuation.
The paper endeavours to point out some effects of this double ideologisation in the case of Mihail Jora (1891-1971), seen as the most important Romanian composer of the generation immediately following George Enescu. The case under discussion is the more relevant the more Jora repeatedly pleaded for music and politics never to mix.
Military Music between Use and Abuse: Music Ideology and Propaganda in the Music of the Romanian People’s Army
Chișinevschi’s proclamation in Bucharest, in the autumn of 1947, of the Zhdanovist thesis according to which “there can be no great culture, viable art . . . unless they are grounded in progressive ideology”, instituted socialist realism as the only method of artistic production and expression, one which also had to be adopted, without exception, by those dealing with art and culture in the Army. In the new political regime, perhaps more than ever, military music was called to – or, better yet, summoned to – assent to the Party’s desire that it join in the patriotic and civic education of the soldiers of the newly founded People’s Army. As such, orchestras and ensembles of all types were founded in the country’s defense institutions, based on the model of the famous Alexander Alexandrov (Red Army) Ensemble, and Soviet repertoires were appropriated and adapted.
The present study investigates the mechanisms by which the new repertoires promoted by the military brass bands of the People’s Army became instruments of manipulation and struggle in the service of state power, as well as the aesthetic and compositional norms that took shape with these musical works during the Stalinist period in Romania.
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