The rise to power of Hitler and the Nazis in 1930s Germany had a huge impact on the lives of composers and the music they wrote. As well as providing a historical and cultural overview, select one composer whose experience exempliﬁes your argument.
Introduction. The popularity of the Nazi party from 1928 to 1930 increased in votes by an astonishing 5.5 million, and then a by a further 12 million votes by 1933. This dominant support in Germany changed the course of world history forever. The lives of millions would now begin to change and composers and musician were not exempliﬁed. Their music had to ﬁt the criteria of the Third Reich, it had to be deemed music of the Volk, and eventually become music of the Nazis. The Nazis plan was to have a music of their own, that exempliﬁed everything they stood for, that would in time, when they had realised their ambition of a pure Aryan Germany, also be a pure blood music that they believed would be the ultimate musical form. I will take a look historically, socially and culturally at the effect of the rise to power of the Nazi party and also at the effect on the compositions of Richard Strauss, a man of great international recognition and who was promoted to the head of the Reichsmusikammer. (the State music bureau).
Historical Context: With the collapse of the Wall street stock exchange in 1929 the beginning of the end of prosperity throughout western Europe had begun. Europe suffered heavily with American investors losing thousands of million dollars within a single month, this in turn triggered many short term loans to be called in and eventually resulted in ‘foreign funds totaling 1000 million marks being withdrawn from germany’ (William Carr, A History of Germany, p. 295) during the summer of 1931. This caused the collapse of a number of banks and resulted in the suspension of the German stock exchange to prevent the total collapse of the banking system. The ﬁnancial crisis turned to an industrial crisis, with the contraction of world markets ‘Germanys export trade declined sharply’ (Carr,295) Between 1929 and 1932 unemployed rocketed from ‘900,000 to to a peak of over 6 million’ (Carr,295) The government became divided in the opinion of what action to take, ‘the middle class parties, Populists, Democrats and Centre, though favouring retrenchment had actually agreed on a compromise formula but the socialists rejected it’ (Carr,296). With the government now greatly divided, this forced the resignation of the Weimar Republics chancellor Hermann Muller and the appointment of Henrich Bruning, ‘the balance of power had begun to move from the legislature to the executive, where it had been in 1914 (Carr,296).
Bruning was ideally suited to lead the non-party government, he had the respect of the army due to his time serving as a machine-gun ofﬁcer in the ﬁrst world were he won the Iron Cross and was a ‘man of authoritarian views who favoured the restoration of the monarchy and the emasculation of the parliamentary system’. (Carr,296). However his time in power was short, although tolerated at ﬁrst, his plans of a retrenchment budget was lacking in much support, When ‘A socialist motion demanding the withdrawal of the degree was carried by a narrow majority, Bruning promptly dissolved the the Reichstag and ordered fresh elections.(Carr,297). During this period right wing feelings had spread to a level that could not have been predicted, in the previous elections in 1928, the Nazi party polled only ‘810,000 votes’(Carr,297) whereas ‘in 1930 they polled nearly six and a half million votes and with 107 seats became the second largest party in the Reichstag(Carr, 297). Through the promise of ‘strong government, inspired leadership and the restoration of national pride’(Carr,298) and ‘A combination of promises to appease interest groups (farmers, civil servants, small manufacturers etc’ (Carr,298) and also ‘the immediate repudiation of the Versailles Treaty’ (Carr,298) the party...
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