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The Danger of Music and Other Anti-Utopian Essays$
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Richard Taruskin

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780520249776

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520249776.001.0001

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The Golden Age of Kitsch

The Golden Age of Kitsch

Chapter:
(p.241) 33 The Golden Age of Kitsch
Source:
The Danger of Music and Other Anti-Utopian Essays
Author(s):

Richard Taruskin

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520249776.003.0033

This chapter discusses the Nazi concept of degeneracy in arts and music in Germany, in relation with the release of complete recordings of two operas by record company Decca/London. The record company had released the first complete recordings of operas Jonny spielt auf (Johnny Goes to Town), by Ernst Krenek, and the Das Wunder der Heliane (Heliane's Miracle), by Erich Wolfgang Korngold, as part of a series of releases devoted to the music of German composers who for reasons of race, taste, or politics fell out of favor with the Nazi regime. The Nazi concept of artistic degeneracy was incoherent and opportunistic. The Nazis derived their concept of degeneracy in part from the theories of the nineteenth-century psychiatrist Cesare Lombroso, who sought through science to account for criminal proclivities and thereby to predict them, by identifying the “born criminal” or l'uomo delinquente, as a distinct anthropological “type” with measurable physical and mental “stigmata.” The application of these theories to art and literature was first made by Lombroso's disciple, the Hungarian physician Max Nordau, in a two-volume titled Entartung, which appeared in 1892–93 and went through many printings.

Keywords:   Nazi regime, Cesare Lombroso, artistic degeneracy, Max Nordau, Entartung, Germany, Jonny spielt auf, Das Wunder der Heliane

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