Forbidden Music


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The Jewish Composers Banned by the Nazis

Michael Haas

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A groundbreaking study of the Jewish composers and musicians banned by the Third Reich—and the consequences for music worldwide

With National Socialism's arrival in Germany in 1933, Jews dominated music more than virtually any other sector, making it the most important cultural front in the Nazi fight for German identity. This groundbreaking book looks at the Jewish composers and musicians banned by the Third Reich and the consequences for music throughout the rest of the twentieth century. Because Jewish musicians and composers were, by 1933, the principal conveyors of Germany’s historic traditions and the ideals of German culture, the isolation, exile and persecution of Jewish musicians by the Nazis became an act of musical self-mutilation.

Michael Haas looks at the actual contribution of Jewish composers in Germany and Austria before 1933, at their increasingly precarious position in Nazi Europe, their forced emigration before and during the war, their ambivalent relationships with their countries of refuge, such as Britain and the United States and their contributions within the radically changed post-war music environment.

Michael Haas is director of research at the Jewish Music Institute’s Centre for Suppressed Music, based at Royal Holloway, University of London. He lives in London.

"A tragic and epic story that Haas relates so magisterially well that this book will probably remain definitive on its subject for the foreseeable future."—Booklist, starred review

“A valuable compendium of untold stories, a corrective to standard histories of music and an essential reference point for anyone engaged in the culture and politics of the twentieth century.”—Norman Lebrecht, Wall Street Journal

“An outstandingly fine piece of work.”—Terry Teachout, Commentary

“A richly detailed history of Jewish musicians.”Kirkus

"Haas [...] has produced a meticulously documented study of this 'lost generation' of composers, ranging historically over almost two centuries [...]"—Mark Pappenheim, BBC Music Magazine

“Michael Haas’ important new study. . . not only tells us about the ‘Forbidden’ music and musicians but also investigates the origins of this appalling episode . . . Haas writes with insight and intelligence, illustrating his points with quotations from a wide range of sources . . . Haas writes eloquently about the marginalisation and suppression of the non-Aryan music and the murders and migrations that followed. He describes the rich legacy of these tragic times on post-war musical life in Britain, the US and the world.”—Daniel Snowman, History Today, 1st August 2013

“His book is heavily dense and sometimes heavily written, with an occasional error (Liszt is said to be Wagner’s son-in-law, rather than his father-in-law) but it is also invaluable. Rather than focusing solely on the Third Reich, Haas contextualises it.”—Anne Midgette, Washington Post

“ ...Forbidden Music . . . offers an essential supplement to standard histories of music in thrall to big names and vested interests. The trajectory is tortuous and tragic, the future still uncertain.”—David Gutman, International Record Review


“This heart-breaking book . . . is eloquently written with an almost poetic sensitivity to the subject . . . its publication is a revelation, packed as it is with an overwhelming amount of documents and facts, enriched with fascinating details about modern music from a distinctively Jewish perspective – justifiably so, as the entire musical period was significantly shaped by Jewish composers . . . Forbidden Music serves as a powerful reminder of what Austria in particular has lost in rich 20th century musical culture.”—Matthias Wurz, The Vienna Review

“[T]his compelling exploration of the role Jewish musicians and composers played in the cultural life of the Prussian and Austro-Hungarian Empire. . . is rich in unexpected facts and quotes. . . Its greatest virtue is the unearthing of composers, critics, conductors and musicians destined for obscurity. Haas makes a pleasingly detailed argument for honouring a treasure trove to which the development of Western music owes a considerable debt.”—Rebecca K Morrison, The Independent

"This is a big and important book...that really must be read by anyone with even a passing interest in the music of this period. One closes it with a mixture of astonishment and admiration."—Peter Franklin, Opera Magazine

“Michael Haas makes [his] case powerfully in his important book.”—James Loeffler, The New Republic

“This book is a rich, deep cultural and political history of Jews in central Europe....highly recommended as a superb source of information and analysis about the banning of composers and its long-term effects on the world of music.”—Fanfare

Winner in the 2014 Association for Recorded Sound Collections Awards for Excellence for the best historical Research in Classical Music category.
ISBN: 9780300205350
Publication Date: August 26, 2014
376 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/2