Music Matters

music

Music is very important, it evokes emotions and stirs the soul. It can unite and divide in equal ways. It can be a very powerful tool to bring joy, but it also can become a weapons if it is used for propaganda purposes.

I will be looking at 2 songs which both had some part to play in the political situation in 1930s Germany, and to an extend the Holocaust.

Hollaender

Friedrich Hollaender was one of the great film composers in Hollywood and he wrote film songs and soundtracks to many well-known productions.he was nominated for 4 academy awards. Although he was a German Jew, he was born in London on 18 October 1896. When he was 3 his parents and Friedrich moved back to Berlin.

Hollaender was  an outspoken progressive satirist, a jazz musician  Hollaender was seen by the Nazis as  a symbol of Weimar decadence and intellectual subterfuge. In 1931 he opened his own cabaret theatre called , Tingel Tangel, where he  performed anti-Hitler revues like  Spuk in der Villa Stern (Spook in the Stern Villa), the revue included the satirical song ‘An allem sind die Juden schuld’ (It’s all the fault of the Jews), to the tune of the ‘Habanera’ from Bizet’s Carmen.

Hollaender  wrote this song as a political weapon against  the Nazis and all German anti-Semites. He used satire in the lyrics to highlight the ridiculous accusations made against the Jews. Below is the translation of the lyrics.the song premiered in September, 1931.

If it rains, if it hails,
If it snows or if it flashes,
if it dawns, if it thunders,
if it’s freezing or if you sweat,
if it is beautiful weather or it’s cloudy,
if it thaws or if it pours,
if it’s drizzling, if it trickles
if you cough or if you sneeze:
The Jews are to blame for everything!
The Jews are to blame for everything!
Why, why are they to blame?
Child that you don´t understand that, they are to blame for it!
And me too! You are to blame!
The Jews are, they are, they are definitely to blame!
And when you don´t believe it, they are to blame!
In particular, all the Jews are to blame!
Oh!
If the phone is busy,
if the bathtub leaks,
if your income is estimated incorrectly,
if the sausage tastes like soap,
if on Sunday nothing´s baked,
if the Prince of Wales is gay,
if at night the furniture makes noise,
if your hound has hard shit:
The Jews are to blame for everything!

If you´re taxed by Mr. Dietrich,
if Dietrich sings from head to toe,
if Okasa becomes more expensive,
if a virgin says: “I’ll do it”,
if there is a crisis at the Danat,
if there is an old joke on the radio,
if Garbo has a decayed tooth,
if the kiss pops in the sound-film:
The Jews are to blame for everything!
That snow is so terribly white,
and even, how to say, cold,
but that fire is hot.
And that trees stand in the forest,
that a rose has no roots,
that a beef patty is scraped,
that Heine is not bad,
and Einstein is very talented:
The Jews are to blame for everything!

The Central Association of German Citizens of Jewish Faith protested shortly after the premiere of Hollaender’s satirical song: They  called the piece as a “school example of a misunderstanding and distortion that anti-Semitic agitation would not represent otherwise” and branded the song “disgusting and repulsive.

I can understand the objections against the song because undoubtedly there would have been people who would have seen the song as a confirmation towards the bias against the Jews. Howver those same people would have looked for any excuse to further their own twisted philosophy. I believe the best way to fight bigotry  and anti semitism is to show how ridiculous it is .

Hollaender left Nazi Germany in 1933 because and first moved to Paris. He emigrated to the United States the next year, where he wrote the music for over a hundred films, including Destry Rides Again.

wessel

The Nazis  exploited music for propaganda.in the Nazi imagination, music had a unique significance and power to seduce and sway the masses. The Party made widespread use of music in its publicity, and music featured prominently at rallies and other public events. The Horst Wessellied (Horst Wessel song) was popular and widely sung during rallies and other events.

Horst Wessel was fanatic Nazi . He was a Berlin leader of the Nazi Party’s stormtroopers. In early 1929, Wessel wrote the lyrics for a new Nazi Anthem. The song had several incarnations but was eventually known as the Horts Wessel song after the killing of Wessel.On 23 February 1930 he was murdered by members of the KPD, the German communist party.

Goebbels ceased the opportunity to turn the shooting into the possibility of a propaganda bonanza. He eulogized Wessel in his newspaper, Der Angriff, in overtly Christian tones:

A Christian Socialist! A man who calls out through his deeds: ‘Come to me, I shall redeem you!’ … A divine element works in him. making him the man he is and causing him to act in this way and no other. One man must set an example and offer himself up as a sacrifice! Well, then, I am ready.

The Horst Wessel song became  the anthem of the Nazi Party  from 1930 to 1945. From 1933 to 1945 the Nazis made it the co-national anthem of Germany,.

Below is the translated text. I will not post the actual song because firstly I think it is rubbish and I don’t want this blog to be hijacked by Neo Nazis just so they can use the song. The song is banned in Germany, you can actually get a jail sentence for it if you are caught singing it. That doesn’t stop Neo Nazis for using it though.

Raise the flag! The ranks tightly closed!
The SA marches with calm, steady step.
Comrades shot by the Red Front and reactionaries
March in spirit within our ranks.

Clear the streets for the brown battalions,
Clear the streets for the storm division!
Millions are looking upon the swastika full of hope,
The day of freedom and of bread dawns!

For the last time, the call to arms is sounded!
For the fight, we all stand prepared!
Already Hitler’s banners fly over all streets.
The time of bondage will last but a little while now!

Raise the flag! The ranks tightly closed!
The SA march with quiet, steady step.
Comrades shot by the Red Front and reactionaries,
March in spirit within our ranks

The irony in the song is the use of the word Comrade which is more associated with communists.

Music does matter and often in ways you would not have imagined.

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Sources

http://holocaustmusic.ort.org/resistance-and-exile/berlin-cabaret-in-exile/an-allem-sind-die-juden-schuld-words/

https://www.antiwarsongs.org/canzone.php?id=45543&lang=en

https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/horst-wessel

Not all heroes wear uniforms.

sam

When you look at the above picture you may think there is nothing extraordinary about it. However when you delve only slightly into the history of the picture you quickly how realize how amazing the picture really is.

The picture is of a Jewish male choir of the Great Synagogue in Amsterdam, it was taken in March 1942 and although the deportations of Dutch Jews had not started yet at the that time,  the life of Dutch Jews had been nearly made impossible at that stage.

Yet these men kept going and tried to lift the spirits with their singing. Heroically they maintained their cultural legacy despite the looming threat of being killed.

It particularly touched me because one of my hobbies is singing, in fact I used to be a conductor of a mixed choir, and when I saw the style of the conductor of this choir it reminds me of my own style.

The conductor’s name is Samuel Henri Englander he was appointed as the conductor when he was aged 20.Under his leadership the choir became well known, it soon got the nick name ‘Englander’s choir’. They performed at shul services but also weddings and even  in concerts where they  primarily  would sing religious music from Eastern Europe and Yiddish folk songs. Some of the concerts WERE  even be broadcast by the BBC.

bbc

I don’t know what happened to the choir, I can only presume they did not survive. Samuel Henri Englander was murdered in Sobibor on 11 June 1943.

So much talent has been destroyed by the Nazis, depriving not only the world but also themselves of so much good.

Koor

 

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Source

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/137039600/samuel-henri-englander

NIOD

One of the shabbiest acts in musical history.

Capture

The term the Nazis used for how to handle  the Jews was “Ausradieren” or ‘Erase’, this did not only mean to kill every Jew but also ensure that no other Jew would be born again.

But the notion of erasing the Jewish people also meant to erase anything Jewish. Things like Jewish scientific research, literature,art  and music had to be destroyed or replaced.

When it came to music there were composers who we were willing participants in achieving at least the musical part of that aim.

Carl Orff, composer of works like ‘Carmina Burana’ (best known for the piece O Fortuna),

 

was  among  the few German composers during the Nazi era  who had been hired to write ‘appropriately’ Aryan music to replace the  new incidental music and replace  for ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, which had been composed by the vilified  Jewish composer Felix Mendelssohn.

In 1995, the music critic Alex Ross called Orff’s version of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ ’ one of the shabbiest acts in musical history.” and I tend to agree with that.

Thankfully the Nazis did not succeed in destroying all Jewish cultural heritage, the world would have been a much more boring place without it.

Carl Orff was on a de-nazification program. He always denied that he had been a supporter of the Nazi regime and that he even had helped to set up “the White Rose” .resistance group, but there was never any evidence found to back up that claim.

Carl Orff died on March 29,1982.

white rose

Ending this blog with a piece of  Felix Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, this piece is more commonly known as the Wedding March.

 

 

 

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Sources

Music History Monday: To Dance with the Devil

Midsummer Music Even the Nazis Couldn’t Stamp Out

BBC

 

Genesis- the Singers.

genesisThis is a slight deviation from my usual blogs. Because music has always played a major role in my life it is nive to acknowledge that every once in a while.

When you think of classic Rock bands, Genesis is usually not a band which springs to mind, strange in a way because that is basically what they are a classic Prog Rock band.

Their rise to fame was a bit of a strange one. although they had some successes in the early years but nothing really noteworthy.

They started off in 1967  with Peter Gabriel as their singer and front man, and their music was slightly psychedelic . Gabriel was only 17 at the time. I think the reason why they didn’t have any real success with him as a singer is because their music and appearance might have been a bit to extravagant.

2

In 1975/76 Phil Collins took over the reign as a singer. He had been the drummer until then. And it was with Phil Collins they got their biggest successes and turned out to become a major global band. Their first big hit was ‘Follow You, Follow me’ from the album “.. and there there were three” after guitarist Steve Hackett left , leaving only Collins,Banks and Rutherford in the band

Aside his career as the singer of Genesis ,Phil Collins also was a vert successful solo artiste. As was the former singer Peter Gabriel, both men sold millions of albums as solo artists.

In 1996 Collins thought it was better to leave the band. After 25 years in the band he thought  it was  time to change direction in his musical life and wanted to focus on music for movies and jazz.

This left Banks and Rutherford with a problem. They wanted to continue the band but had no singer. They auditioned several singer, including Francis Dunnery who had worked with Robert Plant before and had been in the prog rock band It Bites, who had  a hit with ‘Calling all the heroes’ in 1986.

Another contender was Nick Van Eede who had been the lead singer of Cutting Crew an  anEnglish rock band formed in London in 1985 and are best remember by their debut single, which became a massive global hit’ “(I just) died in your arms tonight”

They also auditioned David Longdon a British multi-instrumentalist and singer byt eventually they settled for Ray Wilson a Scottish singer and guitarist who had been the lead singer with the Rock Band “Stitskin” who had a hit with the song “Inside” which was used in a Levi’s  501 jeans ad.

The band disbanded in 1996 which gave Ray Wilson to join Genesis. In 1997 Wilson was announced as the new lead singer of  Genesis. Although Banks and Rutherford had already finished writing the album “Calling all stations”  Wilson was still able to make some contributions to to the album which included writing the lyrics to “Small Talk” and riffs on “Not About Us”

Although the albuM did reasonably well in the UK and Europe it only reached the number 54 spot in the US charts.

In 1998 the band decided to take a prolonged break.

In 2014, Gabriel, Banks, Rutherford, Collins and Hackett reunited for Genesis: Together and Apart, a BBC documentary.

On 4 March 2020, Collins,Banks and Rutherford  announced their reformation and The Last Domino? Tour. It is great to see them back again.

domino

 

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sources

You Tube

 

Dora Gerson-Body lost or destroyed.

Dora

Dora Gerstein was a Jewish actress and singer  born  on 23 March 1899  in Berlin. She was murdered on February 14,1943 in Auschwitz. On one of the sites I used to do the research on Dora I noticed the line ‘Body lost or destroyed’.

Not only her body was destroyed but also her talent and beauty. Her short life is a poignant illustration how in a few years time, a poltical movement with a warped ideology impacted her life and ultimately caused her death.

In 1920 she starred in 2 silent films. Die Todeskarawane aka Caravan of Death and Auf den Trümmern des Paradieses aka In the Rubble of Paradise. She played the same character in both movies. The movies were based on novels by Karl May. Many Europeans have seen the Winnetou and Old Shatterhand westerns which were penned by Karl May. He was also admired by Albert Einstein  who said about him , “My whole adolescence stood under his sign. Indeed, even today, he has been dear to me in many a desperate hour.”

Ironically another admirer was Adolf Hitler who mentioned Karl May in Mein Kampf.

Between 1922 and 1924 Dora was married to the Actor/Director Veit Harlan. In less then 16 years after their divorce Harlan would become a pivotal figure in the Nazi propaganda machine. In 1940 he directed the anti-Semitic Nazi propaganda film Jud Süß.

Jud

To escape Nazi persecution she moved to the Netherlands in 1936, where she met her 2nd Husband Max Sluizer. The couple had 2 children  Miriam Sluizer born on 19 November 1937 and Abel Juda Sluizer born on 21 May 1940,only 11 days after Germany invaded the Netherlands.

Dora and her family were all transported to Drancy internment camp and from there they were deported to Auschwitz where they were all murdered on February 14,1943.

pass

Finishing up with one of Dora’s recordings “Vorbei”  an emotional ballad, reminiscing pre-Nazi Germany.

!They’re gone beyond recall
A final glance, a last kiss
And then it’s all over
under the frame of eternity
A final word, a last farewell”

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Sources

IMDB

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/110288165/dora-gerson

http://www.musiques-regenerees.fr/GhettosCamps/Camps/GersonDora.html

YouTube

 

Blackstar- Elvis and David Bowie

2020-01-08.png

January 8 is a significant date in music history. On this day 3 musical legends and Icons were born.

I wont’t go too much into their lives because there is very little I can add.

Aside from being tow extraordinary artists , there is another connection to these 2 musical giants.

In 1960 Elvis released a country and western style song called “Dark Star” and it was to be used in a  Western. However the song title was changed to Flaming Star. It is not clear to me why it was changed.

Like most children of the 1950s and indeed later decades , David Bowie considered Elvis a mythical figure. The two men  who would go on to share a record label, RCA, in the 1970s, also happened to be born on the same day. “I couldn’t believe it,” David  Bowie said. “He was a major hero of mine. And I was probably stupid enough to believe that having the same birthday as him actually meant something”

On January 8 2016, on David Bowie’s 69th Birthday and 2 days before his death he released his last album, and I nearly would day his best album, titled Black Star.

The title of that album was aed back to Elvis. by the philosopher Simon Critchley, whose book “Bowie” was released in 2014,  He pointed to the rare Elvis song “Black Star,”

 

Maybe it was David Bowie’s tribute to Elvis.

These are the lyrics of the Elvis song. They are very poignant.

Every man has a black star
A black star over his shoulder
And when a man sees his black star
He knows his time, his time has come

Black star don’t shine on me, black star
Black star keep behind me, black star
There’s a lot of livin’ I gotta do
Give me time to make a few dreams come true, black star

David Bowie’s Blackstar sounds completely different of course

 

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YouTube

Mew York Times

 

The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore- Musician who died in 2019

captain

The Captain” of Captain and Tennille, died on January 2nd aged 76.

talk

Mark Hollis, lead singer and songwriter of Talk Talk, has died at the age of 64 on February 25th.

flint

On March 4th, Keith Flint, the singer of The Prodigy, took his life at the age of 49.

Dick Dale

Richard Anthony Monsour aka Dick Dale the “King of Surf Guitar died on March 17, aged 81.

Noel Scott Engel aka Scott Walker American-born, British singer Scott Walker, formerly of The Walker Brothers, died on March 22,age 76.

spyro

David Alan Samuels, American percussionist for Spyro Gyra died on April 22, aged 70.

Doris Day

On May 13, legendary singer and actress Doris Day died aged 97.

cassius

Grammy-winning producer Philippe Zdar (half of  French house duo Cassius) fell off a building in Paris, France and died at the age of 52, on June 19.

art

On July 22, Art Neville, the founding member of The Neville Brothers and The Meters (and later renamedThe Funky Meters),  died at the age of 81.

ian

Ian Gibbons was an English keyboardist, most notably known for playing with The Kinks.He died on August 1 at the age of 67.

ric

Ric Ocasek, was an American singer, songwriter, musician, record producer and painter. He was the lead vocalist, rhythm guitarist and songwriter for the rock band the Cars.He passed away on September 15, aged 75.

Baker

Peter Edward “Ginger” Baker or simply Ginger Baker was an English drummer and a co-founder of the rock super band Cream. He died on October 6th at the age of 80.

wake

Wake Self American rapper died on November 5 in a fatal traffic collision, he was aged 30.

roxette

Roxette singer Marie Fredriksson has died on December 9th at the age of 61, following a long battle with cancer.

These were just some of the musicians who died in 2019. There is quite a band forming beyond those pearly gates/ May they all rest in peace.

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YouTube

WeHeartMusic

The Look- Roxette’s accidental break through.

the look

The sad news reached us this week that Roxette singer Gun-Marie Fredriksson had died after a 17-year long battle with cancer.

Roxette were very successful in the late 80s and early 90s , in fact at some stage they were the biggest band in the world. But this success may never have been if it wasn’t for a young American exchange student Dean Cushman.

Roxette had already been quite successful in their native Sweden. The Look was the 4th single from their second album. It was actually their Christmas song “It Must Have Been Love (Christmas for the Broken Hearted)”  released in December 1987,which had not been included on any of their albums. that had been their biggest selling single to date

The song  became a top five hit in Sweden. In 1990 it was re-released for the movie “Pretty Woman” leaving out the Christmas for the Broken Hearted bit of the original title.

“The Look” was released as the  fourth single of their 2nd album “Look Sharp” in January 1989,=reaching the top 10 in Sweden. American exchange student from Minneapolis, Dean Cushman, had been an exchange student in Sweden where he bought the album and brought it home to the US., giving a copy of it to his local Top 40 radio station, KDWB 101.3 FM. “The Look” soon became very popular, and the station began distributing the track to their sister radio operations. EMI America had previously rejected the duo as unsuitable for the American market, and Roxette didn’t have a recording contract in the US.

“The Look” had already entered the top fifty of the Billboard Hot 100 before the duo began official promotion. It would go on to peak at number one eight weeks later. It gradually became a global hit over the next year, topping the charts in 25 countries.

To put things in perspective,their debut album Pearls of Passion which was only released in Scandinavia and Canada sold 800,000 copies(this number includes the sales of th remastered version released in 1997) Where “Look Sharp” sold 9,000,000 copies worldwide.

 

RIP Marie- You always had the look.

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Sources

EMI

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Geleen Capital of Rock.

Flag Geleen

The name Geleen will mean little to most, but it is where I was born and raised.A small industrial city in the province of Limburg, the south east of the Netherlands. Just because I don’t live there anymore doesn’t mean I am not proud to be from there or that I don’t love it anymore, because I do love it and I am still proud to be a Gelener..

This doesn’t mean I can’t be critical. Many mistakes have been made in the past which resulted in professional football.motor racing  to disappear from the town. Where there used to be a vibrant city centre there are only a few shops left at the moment, all because a mayotr had some grandiose plans for the city, grandiose but not well thought through.

The biggest loss howver was the loss of Pinkpop , one of Europe’s biggest Rock festivals. I I am not going to dwell on the reasons ,but I will recapture some of my home town’s great Rock legacy.

However the very first edition wasn’t held in Geleen but in the nearby village of Gulpen. The festival was called PinkNick at the time , the date May 26 1969.

pnk

But from 1970 the festival was renamed to PinkPop(pink taken from the word Pinksteren, meaning Pentecost). and the new venue  was Burgemeester Damen Sportpark in Geleen, where it remained until 1986. In 1987 it moved to Baarlo , the year after Landgraaf was to become the new venue where the festival is still being held to date.

Below are just some impression of  artists who played in Geleen.

David Lee Roth of Van Halen with a broken nose at the Pinkpop Festival in Geleen . May 26, 1980.

dlr

1979 Poster

1979

U2 in 1981

U2

The Cure 1986

Cure

Fleetwood Mac 1971

2019-10-25

Thin Lizzy 1978

Thin Lizzy

ZZ Top 1982

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Sources

You Tube

Pinkpop.nl

When music and politics collide.

Vienna Philharmonic

Music is one of my biggest passions, it has helped mte through many tragedies in my life and it still plays a very important part in my life.

Something that worries me is when music is used for political reasons or when musicians make political statements. They are of course entitled to have political views but they have to remember that they are on a platform, where they can reach many of their fans. They have to be very careful in relation to what political ideology they subscribe. Mostly they mean well and want to use the influence they have to get a message across, but it can backfire on them and it may actually damage their careers. They could even be accused of hypocrisy . I remember a few years ago a well known rock star decided not to have a concert in a city in the US because they could not provide all facilities requested by the LGBT community. However this same rock star had no difficulties touring in countries where gay men were executed for having sexual relations with other men.

Throughout history there have been cases where politics were used to influence music and vice versa with devastating effect.

On 23 March 1938, the violinist Viktor Robitsek received a notification from the management of the Vienna Philharmonic orchestra, telling him he was fired. viktorThis was not because he was a bad violinist, in fact he was one of the best in Austria, he was fired for being Jewish. He had served 35 years with the Orchestra devoting his life to his art and the orchestra.

He had Joined the Vienna Court Opera Orchestra and Vienna Philharmonic on November 11, 1902. On Mar 23, 1938 he was told that his services were no longer required. Discarded as a disposable piece of material.

Robitsek was Deported on October 28, 1941 together with his wife, Elsa Robitsek), from Vienna to Litzmannstadt, where he was murdered on June 1942.

On March 12,1938 11 days before Robitsek was sacked from the orchestra er Hitler’s troops  had  marched in to Austria and were  met with no resistance, The Anschluss was welcomed by most Austrians.

anschluss

Many already had become members of the Nazi party, among them a few dozen musicians of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.

Viktor Rubinek was not the only Jewish musician to be fired, most of the  Jewish musicians were sacked from the orchestra.

A total of seven members of the Philharmonic were killed,

Murdered after Deportation:

1. Moriz Glattauer (Violin I)
2. Viktor Robitsek (Violin II)
3. Max Starkmann (Violin I, Viola)
4. Julius Stwertka (Concertmaster, Violin I)
5. Armin Tyroler (Oboe II)

Philharmonic Members who died in Vienna:
6. Anton Weiss (Violin I, section leader)
7. Paul Fischer (Violin I)

In 1938, thirteen active musicians were expelled from the Association of the Vienna
Philharmonic and the Vienna State Opera Orchestra. Three additional retired members of the Philharmonic also fell victim to the Holocaust.

The violinist Moriz Glattauer was deported together with his wife, Anna, to Theresienstadt on July 14, 1942. He died there on February 2, 1943. His wife Anna Glattauer was transferred to Auschwitz on May 15, 1944 although it is not entirely clear how she died, she more then llikely was killed in the Gas chambers.

None of the fellow musicians did anything to safe their colleagues, some whom they had performed with for decades,instead they signed up to the Nazi political ideology. They had allowed their music to collide with politics, Not only had this evil infiltrated this evil their lives it alsi tainted their art forever.

 

The Vienna Philharmonic orchestra is just one example but there were many other orchestras and musical institutions across the world  who treated their Jewish colleagues in a similar way

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Sources

https://www.wienerphilharmoniker.at/orchestra/history/national-socialism

The Guardian