[Entartete Musik]

"Entartete Musik" - German Handbill

German handbill, ca. 1939, promoting the exhibition of "Entartete Musik" ("Degenerate Music"), bearing an insulting caricature of a black man playing a saxophone and wearing a Star of David upon his lapel. The illustration is a caricature of the character Jonny from Ernst Krenek's opera Jonny spielt auf (1927), with the Star of David replacing the carnation worn by Jonny. 1 p. Rather heavily toned with some light stains; overall very good. 5 x 7.5 inches (13 x 18.8 cm).

The first of the exhibitions on "Entartete Musik" was organized in Düsseldorf by Hans Severus Ziegler, at the time superintendent of the Weimar National Theatre, who explained in an opening speech that the decay of music was "due to the influence of Judaism and capitalism". The Nazi government's concern for degenerate music was a part of its larger and more well-known campaign against "degenerate art" ("Entartete Kunst"). In both cases, the government attempted to isolate, discredit, discourage, or ban works that they considered harmful, decadent, or in any way associated with Judaism.

"Curated by Hans Severus Ziegler, the exhibition displayed portraits of banned composers and offered listening booths where visitors could hear ‘degenerate’ music. Slogans criticised composers and their music, educating visitors about the danger of these music and musicians. The exhibition, which opened in Düsseldorf’s Kunstpalast (Art Palace) in May 1939, was accompanied by a brochure written by Ziegler. His aims for the exhibition were that it should ‘bring about a clear decision for music as well [as art]: what was and is diseased, unhealthy, and highly dangerous in our music and that for this reason must be eliminated.’ Composers included in the exhibition included Jewish musicians, foreign artists and Modernists including Paul Hindemith, Alban Berg, Ernst Toch, Hans Eisler, Igor Stravinsky, Franz Schreker, Ernst Krenek and Kurt Weill. The exhibition presented a diverse selection of artists and genres of music linked only because they were disliked by the Nazi regime. Composers such as Hindemith and Stravinsky, who had been unsure about their place in Nazi Germany, took their inclusion in Entartete Musik as confirmation that they were unwelcome in the Third Reich." (Abaigh McKee, "Entartete Kunst and Entartete Music exhibitions," www.holocaustmusic.ort.org) (17830)

History & Historiography