The Twisted Muse
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The Twisted Muse : Musicians and Their Music in the Third Reich

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Is music removed from politics? To what ends, beneficent or malevolent, can music and musicians be put? In short, when human rights are grossly abused and politics turned to fascist demagoguery, can art and artists be innocent? These questions and their implications are explored in Michael Kater's broad survey of musicians and the music they composed and performed during the Third Reich. Great and small-from Valentin Grimm, a struggling clarinetist, to Richard Strauss, renowned composer-are examined by Kater, sometimes in intimate detail, and the lives and decisions of Nazi Germany's professional musicians are presented. Kater tackles the issue of whether the Nazi regime, because it held music in crassly utilitarian regard, acted on musicians in such a way as to consolidate or atomize the profession. Kater's examination of the value of music for the regime and the degree to which the regime attained a positive propaganda and palliative effect through the manner in which it manipulated its musicians, and by extension, German music, is of importance for understanding culture in totalitarian systems. This work, with its emphasis on the social and political nature of music and the political attitude of musicians during the Nazi regime, will be the first of its kind. It will be of interest to scholars and general readers eager to understand Nazi Germany, to music lovers, and to anyone interested in the interchange of music and politics, culture and ideology.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 342 pages
  • 154.94 x 226.06 x 30.48mm | 680.39g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • New.
  • 0195096207
  • 9780195096200
  • 1,657,947

Review quote

Michael H. Kater ... addresses the question in The Twisted Muse: Musicians and Their Music in the Third Reich ... reaching some interesting conclusions. * Charles Osborne, The Daily Telegraph * A very readable and intriguing book for those interested in the impact of Nazism on cultural life in Germany. * Ralph F. Wells, Richard Strauss Society * The merit of the book lies in its detailed factual picture of the background for music and musicians in those troubled times. * Ralph F. Wells, Richard Strauss Society *show more

Back cover copy

Is music removed from politics? To what ends, beneficent or malevolent, can music and musicians be put? In short, when human rights are grossly abused and politics turned to fascist demagoguery, can art and artists be innocent? These questions and their implications are explored in Michael Kater's broad survey of musicians and the music they composed and performed during the Third Reich. Great and small - from Valentin Grimm, a struggling clarinetist, to Richard Strauss, renowned composer - are examined by Kater, sometimes in intimate detail, and the lives and decisions of Nazi Germany's professional musicians are laid out before the reader. Who collaborated? And to what extent? Who was persecuted, and to what effect? Along the way, Kater manages to debunk, authoritatively, old arguments and expose collaborators - notably Elisabeth Schwarzkopf. This major opera diva of the 1950s and 60s, who has for years adamantly denied her affiliation to the Nazi party, is shown to have ingratiated herself with the Nazi rulers. More widely, Kater tackles the issue of whether the Nazi regime, because it held music in crassly utilitarian regard, acted on musicians in such a way as to consolidate or atomize the profession. Kater's examination of the value of music for the regime and the degree to which the regime attained a positive propaganda and palliative effect through its manipulation of musicians and German music adds much to our understanding of culture in totalitarian regimes.show more

About Michael H. Kater

Michael H. Kater is Distinguished Research Professor of History at the Canadian Centre for German and European Studies at York University, Toronto, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. He is also the author of Different Drummers: Jazz in the Culture of Nazi Germany (OUP, 1992).show more

Rating details

25 ratings
3.92 out of 5 stars
5 24% (6)
4 44% (11)
3 32% (8)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
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