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The Political Orchestra

The Vienna and Berlin Philharmonics during the Third Reich

Fritz Trümpi

The Political Orchestra

Fritz Trümpi

Translated by Kenneth Kronenberg
344 pages | 9 halftones, 17 line drawings, 5 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2016
Cloth $50.00 ISBN: 9780226251394 Published November 2016
E-book $50.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226251424 Published November 2016
This is a groundbreaking study of the prestigious Berlin and Vienna Philharmonics during the Third Reich. Making extensive use of archival material, including some discussed here for the first time, Fritz Trümpi offers new insight into the orchestras’ place in the larger political constellation.

Trümpi looks first at the decades preceding National Socialist rule, when the competing orchestras, whose rivalry mirrored a larger rivalry between Berlin and Vienna, were called on to represent “superior” Austro-German music and were integrated into the administrative and social structures of their respective cities—becoming vulnerable to political manipulation in the process. He then turns to the Nazi period, when the orchestras came to play a major role in cultural policies. As he shows, the philharmonics, in their own unique ways, strengthened National Socialist dominance through their showcasing of Germanic culture in the mass media, performances for troops and the general public, and fictional representations in literature and film. Accompanying these propaganda efforts was an increasing politicization of the orchestras, which ranged from the dismissal of Jewish members to the programming of ideologically appropriate repertory—all in the name of racial and cultural purity.

Richly documented and refreshingly nuanced, The Political Orchestra is a bold exploration of the ties between music and politics under fascism.
Two Cities, Two Orchestras: An Introduction
1 “Innovation” versus “Tradition”: The Berlin and Vienna Philharmonics at the End of the Long Nineteenth Century
2 Differing Responses to Increased State Influence: The Orchestras during the Republics (1918–1933)
3 Continuous Radicalization under Austrofascism and National Socialism
4 Dependence and Protection under National Socialism
5 The Orchestras’ Multifaceted Media Presence
6 Repertoire and Politicization: National Socialism and the Politics of Programming
Summary and Conclusion: “A Rivalry Like That between the Berliners and the Viennese Will Always Exist”
Appendix: Repertoire—Graphs and Commentary
Review Quotes
Claremont Review of Books
“Apart from a few studies of Entartete Musik (degenerate music), and Verdrängte Musik (suppressed music), a reticence about the Nazi years among German-speaking historians of music has largely held until very recently. For his part in breaking the silence, Fritz Trümpi deserves our gratitude.”
Washington Times
"Not just an enlightening look at the subtleties of past history, but a cautionary tale for our present—and our future."
Berthold Hoeckner, University of Chicago
“This is a groundbreaking study. Trümpi takes on two of the most iconic musical institutions in Germany and Austria, showing how closely they were integrated into the cultural politics of the Third Reich after the 1938 annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany. His comparative approach and dual focus present a double case study that brilliantly demonstrates how the relationship between music and politics in a totalitarian regime was shaped by specific local circumstances that both favored and resisted total manipulation.”
Georgina Prodhan, former Vienna correspondent, Reuters
The Political Orchestra takes an important look at the different ways the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonics were politicized before and during the Third Reich. Trümpi, who puts their musical styles and mythologies firmly into historical perspective, has unearthed and published for the first time much archival material, which this welcome English translation now makes available for a wider audience.”
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