Rediscovering Suppressed Musical Treasures of the Twentith Century

By James Conlon

“Who shall absolve the foulness of their fate…Those doomed, conscripted, unvictorious ones?” - Siegfried Sassoon

After 1945, those who performed, wrote or taught classical music worked in a culture scarred by omissions. These were not of their making, but were part of the legacy of atrocities committed by Nazi Germany. With its racist ideology and systematic suppression particularly, although not exclusively, of Jewish musicians, artists and writers, the Third Reich silenced two generations of composers and, with them, an entire musical heritage. Many, who perished in concentration camps, and others, whose freedom and productivity were curtailed, were fated to be forgotten after the war. Their music seemed to have passed with them, lost in endless silence.

By Dr. Kevin Clarke

How did this happen? Or more importantly: how could it happen? How did the up-to-date, cheeky, cosmopolitan art form known as ”operetta“ become transformed from a popular, commercial genre into the old-fashioned, state subsidized, sexually repressed waltz-and-schmaltz entertainment that it is usually seen as today? There are several answers to these questions. Although there is a somewhat different explanation for the shift in the United States, in the German speaking world the line that divides operetta history into a ”before“ and ”after“ is the year 1933.