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Bach and Nazis

Bach and Nazis

Michael Mannix wrote (March 22, 2007):
The Nazis drew inspiration from the work of Wagner. They rewrote the libretto of Handel's 'Israel in Egypt' as 'The Mongul Fury'.

What of Bach? Forkel's biography ends: 'And this man, the greatest musical poet and the greatest musical orator that ever existed, and probably every will exist, was a German. Let his country be proud of him; let it be proud, but at the same time, worthy of him!

There are similar ulra-nationalist sentiments in Forkel's preface.

Has anyone any examples of mis-use of Bach's reputation or music to advance the Nazi cause?

Did Hitler have any views on Bach?

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (March 22, 2007):
Michael Mannix wrote:
< Has anyone any examples of mis-use of Bach's reputation or music to advance the Nazi cause?
Did Hitler have any views on Bach? >

To my knowledge much more use (not that he would have objected) of Wagner and Bruckner.

It seems, but I have never really gotten the information I wanted on this, that Kittel conducted changed Bach and changed Mozart Requiem. I have asked about this WAM Requiem for a while and the only response privately I have gotten is that the notes to the CD issue are in Japanese but the text was bowdlerized and that there is a reference to David and Jerusalem. This seems very odd indeed.Obviously music was in the power of the state and whatever they did would not surprise.

This is a separate question from what's in Bach's own cantata libretti at times. There have been major articles written on BWV 4 and BWV 46. I have not yet read them.

Supersessionism is always a problem. BWV 46 apparently has problems that Emmanuel Church ignores in its online translation and commentary (see no evil, hear no evil, smell no evil).

Again what Luther urged, what Bach composed to, and what the Nazis did are separate matters except in the case of the Wagner widow and kids who were directly involved.

William Rowland (Ludwig) wrote (March 22, 2007):
[To Michael Mannix] I am not aware that anyone had anything much to say about Bach who were Nazi's. Bach was in there mind mostly a Church composer and therefore did not fit into the Nazi belief system well. I see no connection here and hope that you and others will stay away from this topic unless you have concrete proof ---more than supposition that there was a connection between Bach and Hitler.

Hitler was an ardent Wagner fan and many of Wagner's writings were very congruent with Nazi's ideologies particularly the anti-semetic component of Nazi belief. Hitler was so entralled with Wagner that at least on two occaisions he ordered command performances --one of which was at Bayreuth in which he was the only audience there.

William Rowland (Ludwig) wrote (March 22, 2007):
[To Yoël L. Arbeitman] I do wish to remind the people on the list, some of whom are very sensitive to this subject, that Winifred Wagner and other family did apologize for their part with the Naxi party. They were very lucky as they did not suffer the ostracism that Strauss did along with the seizure of all of Strauss's Royalites.

Ed Myskowski wrote (March 22, 2007):
Yoel L. Arbeitman wrote:
< Supersessionism is always a problem. BWV 46 apparently has problems that Emmanuel Church ignores in its online translation and commentary (see no evil, hear no evil, smell no evil). >
To be Christian is to believe that Jesus (a Jew) was the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah. As I understand it, supersessionism is just another way of saying that, and it is not necessarily anti-Semitic. On the other hand, I think almost all of us would agree that there have been anti-Semitic horrors throughout history, which were based on questionable interpretations of Scripture.

I fail to see the specific problem you refer to in BWV 46, or that Emmanuel Music ignores anything. Can you explain? BTW, EM is a very open-minded, tolerant, congregation. I am not a member, but I have many musician friends who are, some Christian, many undefined including some of Jewish heritage or extraction, I would guess, although it is not a matter that anyone (not that I know, at least) takes note of. You have little to gain by trashing friends, however gently.

I agree with you and others who have pointed out that Christian, specifically 18th C. Lutheran, theology is the basis for the Bach church cantata and passion texts, and so is an essential element for BCML discussion. Since the 18th C. Lutherans are long gone, I don't find this fact gives anyone a special advantage in understanding or enjoying the music, nor does it justify or leave open to ongoing attack, any 18th C social attitudes which we would no longer find acceptable. To the extent that they are in the texts, they are worth noting, but that does not spiritually discredit Bach, to my way of thinking.

Our president (USA) has decreed it: 'The past is over!' Of course, look where that attitude is getting us. Perhaps the past is over, all the better to learn from it? So, don't get over it. Don't even try to get even. Just don't keep
making the same mistakes. Make new ones.

Eric Bergerud wrote (March 22, 2007):
[To Michael Mannix] Bach was a typical example of the 18th century German artist - a man from a little country with one foot in the past. The land of Dichter und Denker. I think this is why Taruskin has recently claimed that the Bach revival of the 19th century was a largely bogus attempt to extend the German musical pantheon past Mozart to Bach when one could argue that Bach's impact on late 18th century masters was pretty minor. ( I don't endorse this argument, but it is interesting. Politically my guess is that each of the great German artists would have sided with Vienna in a showdown with Prussia.) And an anti-clerical regime was not about to put overtly religious works (which Handel's were not) on any kind of pedestal. Add into the equation the connection between the Bach revival and Mendelssohn, an artist despised by the Nazis for obvious reasons. And the Nazis liked trumpets. Liszt wasn't German but the Nazis employed the fanfare from Les Prelude to introduce announcements of military victories coming from Goebbel's office. Lastly National Socialism, among other things, was Romanticism gone nuts. Hitler loved to tell people how he let destiny guide him and point out the sterile weakness of simple reason. And Wagner was the archetype romantic composer. Just can't see Hitler thinking over world events while listening to Musical Offering.

Michael Mannix wrote (March 23, 2007):
Also read Wagner talking about C.M von Weber, stressing the Germanic nature of Weber's art.

Of course, the main baroque composer revered by Nazis was Frederick the Great. I dont want to restart the Old Dead Fred Debate but....

British Imperialism is of course rooted in the baroque. where would ye be without Rule Britannia or Heart of Oak?

Seriously though, I doubt that the Nazis would have overlooked Bach. They appropriated most other achievements of German culture, both real and imanginary, so why not Bach?


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Last update: ýMarch 23, 2007 ý10:19:35