Discussion:
Who wouldnt conduct Carmina Burana
(too old to reply)
e***@aol.com
2005-11-22 02:50:30 UTC
Permalink
I cant seem to remember which conductor or conductors refused to touch
the piece, saying it was 'fascist music'. Klemperer perhaps?
Paul Goldstein
2005-11-22 04:43:19 UTC
Permalink
Post by e***@aol.com
I cant seem to remember which conductor or conductors refused to touch
the piece, saying it was 'fascist music'. Klemperer perhaps?
Klemperer, Karajan, Solti, and Bernstein are among the most prolific recording
conductors who did not record the piece. I don't know that any of them ever
explained why.
Michael Schaffer
2005-11-22 08:51:30 UTC
Permalink
Post by Paul Goldstein
Post by e***@aol.com
I cant seem to remember which conductor or conductors refused to touch
the piece, saying it was 'fascist music'. Klemperer perhaps?
Klemperer, Karajan, Solti, and Bernstein are among the most prolific recording
conductors who did not record the piece. I don't know that any of them ever
explained why.
Karajan conducted Carmina Burana a few times in 1941 and 42, and then
again in Milano in the 50s, but never again afterwards. He later
conducted the world premiere of Orff's De Temporum Fine Comoedia. I
have no idea what he thought about the music, and if he didn't perform
it anymore because some people associate it with an era in history that
Karajan himself wasn't too happy to have been part of. I don't
understand what is supposed to be fascist about Carmina Burana though.
It's a collection of medieval drinking and love songs set in a musical
style probably closest to some of Stravinsky's works like Les Noces.
e***@aol.com
2005-11-22 10:10:48 UTC
Permalink
Ok I just remembered that it wasnt a conductor, but the poet/director
Pier Pasolini that referred to Carmina as 'fascist music' in
justifiying using the music in his film, Salo.

sorry for that false alarm!
Todd Schurk
2005-11-22 15:34:13 UTC
Permalink
Post by e***@aol.com
Ok I just remembered that it wasnt a conductor, but the poet/director
Pier Pasolini that referred to Carmina as 'fascist music' in
justifiying using the music in his film, Salo.
sorry for that false alarm!
Hmmmm....Bohm didn't conduct it,but Gunther Wand did. And Profil just
released a live recording of that Wand concert. Anyone heard it?
Ian Pace
2005-11-23 11:49:11 UTC
Permalink
Post by e***@aol.com
Ok I just remembered that it wasnt a conductor, but the poet/director
Pier Pasolini that referred to Carmina as 'fascist music' in
justifiying using the music in his film, Salo.
He uses 'Veris leta facies' (no doubt playing on its name) in the most
horrific scene of all in this (incredible) film, to accompany the scenes of
unspeakable torture, mutilation and murder of the young boys and girls at
the end of the film. He could have chosen some more obviously 'barbaric'
music, but the result of this particular choice is even more chilling, with
all its overtones of fake-medievalism (so intrinsic to aspects of Nazi
culture) and primitivism. No less starkly penetrating is the combination of
the extremely aestheticised decor and costumes and music of Chopin and
others to accompany the recounting of stories of the most terrible
depravity.

Ian
Paul Goldstein
2005-11-22 15:42:55 UTC
Permalink
In article <***@z14g2000cwz.googlegroups.com>, Michael
Schaffer says...
Post by Michael Schaffer
Post by Paul Goldstein
Post by e***@aol.com
I cant seem to remember which conductor or conductors refused to touch
the piece, saying it was 'fascist music'. Klemperer perhaps?
Klemperer, Karajan, Solti, and Bernstein are among the most prolific recording
conductors who did not record the piece. I don't know that any of them ever
explained why.
Karajan conducted Carmina Burana a few times in 1941 and 42, and then
again in Milano in the 50s, but never again afterwards. He later
conducted the world premiere of Orff's De Temporum Fine Comoedia. I
have no idea what he thought about the music, and if he didn't perform
it anymore because some people associate it with an era in history that
Karajan himself wasn't too happy to have been part of. I don't
understand what is supposed to be fascist about Carmina Burana though.
It's a collection of medieval drinking and love songs set in a musical
style probably closest to some of Stravinsky's works like Les Noces.
I agree. Haitink is another prominent conductor who did not record it, and I
doubt he ever performed it. Let's face it, many musicians think it is utter
crap. I love it.
Richard Schultz
2005-11-22 16:07:40 UTC
Permalink
In article <***@drn.newsguy.com>, Paul Goldstein <***@newsguy.com> wrote:

: I agree. Haitink is another prominent conductor who did not record it, and I
: doubt he ever performed it. Let's face it, many musicians think it is utter
: crap. I love it.

The two categories are not necessarily mutually exclusive -- most musicians
do, after all, have "guilty pleasures" -- pieces of music that they like
even though they know that they are not very good.

-----
Richard Schultz ***@mail.biu.ac.il
Department of Chemistry, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel
Opinions expressed are mine alone, and not those of Bar-Ilan University
-----
"We cannot see how any of his music can long survive him."
-- From the New York Daily Tribune obituary of Gustav Mahler
Matthew B. Tepper
2005-11-22 16:51:30 UTC
Permalink
Post by Richard Schultz
: I agree. Haitink is another prominent conductor who did not record it,
: and I doubt he ever performed it. Let's face it, many musicians think
: it is utter crap. I love it.
The two categories are not necessarily mutually exclusive -- most
musicians do, after all, have "guilty pleasures" -- pieces of music that
they like even though they know that they are not very good.
That is definitely how I feel about it.
--
Matthew B. Tepper: WWW, science fiction, classical music, ducks!
My personal home page -- http://home.earthlink.net/~oy/index.html
My main music page --- http://home.earthlink.net/~oy/berlioz.html
To write to me, do for my address what Androcles did for the lion
I ask you to judge me by the enemies I have made. ~ FDR (attrib.)
John Harrington
2005-11-22 19:10:45 UTC
Permalink
Post by Matthew B. Tepper
Post by Richard Schultz
: I agree. Haitink is another prominent conductor who did not record it,
: and I doubt he ever performed it. Let's face it, many musicians think
: it is utter crap. I love it.
The two categories are not necessarily mutually exclusive -- most
musicians do, after all, have "guilty pleasures" -- pieces of music that
they like even though they know that they are not very good.
That is definitely how I feel about it.
And yet, strangely, you seem to have no guilt about your kiddy porn
collection.


J
EM
2005-11-24 17:04:47 UTC
Permalink
Post by John Harrington
And yet, strangely, you seem to have no guilt about your kiddy porn
collection.
Do you have about yours?

Eltjo M.
Matthew B. Tepper
2005-11-24 17:38:37 UTC
Permalink
Post by EM
Post by John Harrington
And yet, strangely, you seem to have no guilt about your kiddy porn
collection.
Do you have about yours?
Just so the newer folks here can be brought up to speed:

I have no "kiddy porn," hence no need for guilt. That claim seems to have
come originally from the high school kid in Oregon who was incensed at me
when he was busted here for various suspected eBay violations; he defamed
me with libellous and groundless accusations about my eBay purchases. The
last time I took the trouble to notice, he had been thrown off eBay three
times, while my eBay rating is perfectly spotless, approaching 300.

If that's what Harrington is picking up on, it does him no credit at all.
Let's look at where this kind of stupidity can lead. Harrington programs
in PERL, so clearly he writes computer viruses. And Deacon likes drinking
fine wines, so obviously he is a drunk driver. Between those two, there
could be a joke about the "Sober virus," but I don't feel like pursuing it,
so I'll leave that for someone else.
--
Matthew B. Tepper: WWW, science fiction, classical music, ducks!
My personal home page -- http://home.earthlink.net/~oy/index.html
My main music page --- http://home.earthlink.net/~oy/berlioz.html
To write to me, do for my address what Androcles did for the lion
I ask you to judge me by the enemies I have made. ~ FDR (attrib.)
Gerard
2005-11-24 19:29:08 UTC
Permalink
Post by Matthew B. Tepper
I have no "kiddy porn," hence no need for guilt. That claim seems to
have come originally from the high school kid in Oregon who was
incensed at me when he was busted here for various suspected eBay
violations; he defamed me with libellous and groundless accusations
about my eBay purchases. The last time I took the trouble to notice,
he had been thrown off eBay three times, while my eBay rating is
perfectly spotless, approaching 300.
What is eBay rating, and does it make somebody important?
Matthew B. Tepper
2005-11-24 20:39:51 UTC
Permalink
Post by Gerard
What is eBay rating, and does it make somebody important?
It's the number next to an eBay user's name. The official term for it is
"Feedback," and it applies to other user's ratings of their transactions
with you. Here's eBay's own description:

http://pages.ebay.com/help/feedback/evaluating-feedback.html

I'll get back to "Carmina Burana" at the end of this post (for those who
wish to just skip there now), but for a moment I feel like reflecting.

The Oregon kid, before his membership was pulled for the first time (of
which I am aware), appeared to be running into trouble with some of his
buyers, one of whom claimed to have been defrauded. For whatever reason,
eBay pulled his membership, and he went on a revenge rampage against those
of us here who had made fun of him, chiefly Ward Hardman and me.

eBay does not issue explanations of why somebody's membership has been
terminated, probably for legal reasons, but there were three possibilities
that come to mind:

1) One of his auctions, which he advertised in this newsgroup, appeared to
have some shill bids to artificially inflate the price, which is against
eBay policy;

2) In that same auction, he used photographs and verbal descriptions of
the offered item which were identical to those previously used in someone
else's auction, which is also against eBay's policy; and most damagingly,

3) In his other auctions, he appeared to be offering for sale satellite
dish descrambler equipment and/or codes, which (if so) is illegal.

It was those possible shill bids which caused me to comment on it here.
Evidently somebody else took things further and informed eBay, and the kid
had his membership cut off. Before that, he had been a "Power Seller," a
special status eBay gives to sellers who clear at least $1,000 per month,
so when he got terminated, it was probably a big hit to his finances and he
went, as we Americans say, apeshit. He defamed me here, forged posts from
my name and rude variants thereof (he couldn't spell nor punctuate, so
nobody was fooled), trumpeted my long-out-of-date street address and phone
number (he never did get the correct ones), and generally made himself look
stupider and stupider with every attempt. It was annoying, yes, but I felt
it was more than offset by the sheer entertainment value of his stupidity.

The stupidest/funniest thing he did was to follow me into another Usenet
newsgroup, rec.arts.sf.fandom, where he tried to humiliate me by calling me
"fat." This in front of a group of science fiction fans who, though they
are not all overweight, almost universally refuse to judge other people
about their weight. They stomped on him and ground him into the dust.
Good times, good times!

Thinking about it now, years later, I imagine if the situation ever came up
again I would do just the reverse of what I did then, and be quiet about it
here, but secretly and anonymously turn him in. Much cleaner that way!

Now, back to "Carmina Burana," or better still, to recordings of same. If
it were not for the excellent Robert Shaw recording on Telarc, the only one
I would feel that I "need" to have is Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt, inside the
big Stockholm Philharmonic 75th Anniversary Box on BIS. I don't *hate* the
work (I sang two performances of it with the Burbank Chorale this past
May), but I don't think there's a whole lot to say about it in performance,
if you get what I mean.
--
Matthew B. Tepper: WWW, science fiction, classical music, ducks!
My personal home page -- http://home.earthlink.net/~oy/index.html
My main music page --- http://home.earthlink.net/~oy/berlioz.html
To write to me, do for my address what Androcles did for the lion
I ask you to judge me by the enemies I have made. ~ FDR (attrib.)
Gerard
2005-11-24 22:36:23 UTC
Permalink
Matthew B. Tepper wrote:

<snip>

Thanks for your explanation.
Matthew B. Tepper
2005-11-25 05:27:37 UTC
Permalink
Post by Allen
<snip>
Thanks for your explanation.
Don't worry, I'm done now. Back to discussing "Carmina Burana"!
--
Matthew B. Tepper: WWW, science fiction, classical music, ducks!
My personal home page -- http://home.earthlink.net/~oy/index.html
My main music page --- http://home.earthlink.net/~oy/berlioz.html
To write to me, do for my address what Androcles did for the lion
I ask you to judge me by the enemies I have made. ~ FDR (attrib.)
The Historian
2005-11-24 23:27:54 UTC
Permalink
Matthew B. Tepper wrote:

(Snip)
Post by Matthew B. Tepper
Now, back to "Carmina Burana," or better still, to recordings of same. If
it were not for the excellent Robert Shaw recording on Telarc, the only one
I would feel that I "need" to have is Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt, inside the
big Stockholm Philharmonic 75th Anniversary Box on BIS. I don't *hate* the
work (I sang two performances of it with the Burbank Chorale this past
May), but I don't think there's a whole lot to say about it in performance,
if you get what I mean.
One element of the score that seems to be neglected is its humor.
Carmina Burana is too often played as if "O Fortuna" is the entire
work, so to speak. Ormandy and Previn both manage to lighten things up
a little in places such as the 'tavern' section.
Paul Goldstein
2005-11-22 17:03:14 UTC
Permalink
Post by Richard Schultz
: I agree. Haitink is another prominent conductor who did not record it, and I
: doubt he ever performed it. Let's face it, many musicians think it is utter
: crap. I love it.
The two categories are not necessarily mutually exclusive -- most musicians
do, after all, have "guilty pleasures" -- pieces of music that they like
even though they know that they are not very good.
My view is that if a piece of music gives me pleasure, it is "good," not "crap."
The alternative view (it's crap but I enjoy it anyway) seems like hypocrisy to
me.
Dan Koren
2005-11-24 02:07:34 UTC
Permalink
Post by Paul Goldstein
I agree. Haitink is another prominent conductor who did not record it, and I
doubt he ever performed it. Let's face it, many musicians think it is utter
crap. I love it.
One does not have to be a musician to
figure out it is crap.



dk
Richard Schultz
2005-11-22 16:08:40 UTC
Permalink
In article <***@z14g2000cwz.googlegroups.com>, Michael Schaffer <***@gmail.com> wrote:

: Karajan conducted Carmina Burana a few times in 1941 and 42, and then
: again in Milano in the 50s, but never again afterwards. He later
: conducted the world premiere of Orff's De Temporum Fine Comoedia. I
: have no idea what he thought about the music, and if he didn't perform
: it anymore because some people associate it with an era in history that
: Karajan himself wasn't too happy to have been part of.

Did Karajan ever actually express any regret for his actions during
the Second World War?

-----
Richard Schultz ***@mail.biu.ac.il
Department of Chemistry, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel
Opinions expressed are mine alone, and not those of Bar-Ilan University
-----
"an optimist is a guy/ that has never had/ much experience"
Alex Panda
2005-11-22 18:19:54 UTC
Permalink
Post by Richard Schultz
: Karajan conducted Carmina Burana a few times in 1941 and 42, and then
: again in Milano in the 50s, but never again afterwards. He later
: conducted the world premiere of Orff's De Temporum Fine Comoedia. I
: have no idea what he thought about the music, and if he didn't perform
: it anymore because some people associate it with an era in history that
: Karajan himself wasn't too happy to have been part of.
Did Karajan ever actually express any regret for his actions during
the Second World War?
Well, his 'actions' hardly amounted to much bearing in mind the atrocities
that went on then! Karajan was just a very promising young conductor during
that period, perhaps the most promising in Germany, but his career was not
so prominent as to 'legitimise' the Nazi regime. He certainly expressed
regret for joining the Nazi party (for career-inspired opportunist reasons)
and conducting in occupied France to the American-led de-Nazification
investigations. Apart from that I'm not sure what he had to express regret
about. Others like Ansermet (who conducted at the Nazi-controlled Salzburg
Festival), Strauss, and Boehm also had things to regret about their
behaviour during that period but they seem to escape much censure.

Karajan wisely realised that people will believe what they want to believe
about that period so going to law over the many lies told about him was
pointless. Karajan was no Nazi, apparently his habit when he lost his voice
of holding up a card saying 'Heil Hitler' when entering a room caused much
amusement.
Michael Schaffer
2005-11-22 22:30:51 UTC
Permalink
Post by Alex Panda
Post by Richard Schultz
: Karajan conducted Carmina Burana a few times in 1941 and 42, and then
: again in Milano in the 50s, but never again afterwards. He later
: conducted the world premiere of Orff's De Temporum Fine Comoedia. I
: have no idea what he thought about the music, and if he didn't perform
: it anymore because some people associate it with an era in history that
: Karajan himself wasn't too happy to have been part of.
Did Karajan ever actually express any regret for his actions during
the Second World War?
Well, his 'actions' hardly amounted to much bearing in mind the atrocities
that went on then! Karajan was just a very promising young conductor during
that period, perhaps the most promising in Germany, but his career was not
so prominent as to 'legitimise' the Nazi regime. He certainly expressed
regret for joining the Nazi party (for career-inspired opportunist reasons)
and conducting in occupied France to the American-led de-Nazification
investigations. Apart from that I'm not sure what he had to express regret
about. Others like Ansermet (who conducted at the Nazi-controlled Salzburg
Festival), Strauss, and Boehm also had things to regret about their
behaviour during that period but they seem to escape much censure.
Karajan wisely realised that people will believe what they want to believe
about that period so going to law over the many lies told about him was
pointless. Karajan was no Nazi, apparently his habit when he lost his voice
of holding up a card saying 'Heil Hitler' when entering a room caused much
amusement.
Karajan's career actually stalled massively during the later years of
the regime. Hitler didn't like him. His marriage to a "quarter Jewish"
lady didn't help much either. He was ordered to divorce but refused to
do so. I think the story with the card was just one time when he had
just had an operation. But he did apparently make a number of comments
and pulled gags like that which didn't exactly endear him to hardline
party types. He joined the party actually twice, the first time in 1933
in Salzburg after Nazi officials had just swept through and taken over
all key position in the city administration in Ulm where he was second
conductor, and had sacked a number of people. But that membership did
not become active and he never paid his dues. He was eventually let go
from his position in Ulm and hung around for a while unemployed, at a
time when a number of positions were open because conductors had been
forced to give up their posts, for racial or political reasons. When he
landed the job in Aachen in 1934, he did not do so as a party member.
He was promoted to music director the following year, again not as a
party member, but by that time it was pointed out to him that he should
join the party. Not all people in such postions were members ore
required to join. But apparently that depended a lot on the political
microclimate in each city. His positions as an Austrian citizen working
in Germany was problematic because the NSDAP was actually illegal in
Austria at that time. At that time, you could actually not join the
party unless invited to do so - new memberships had been put opn hold
soon after the takeover in 1933 so they could separate the "true
followers" from opportunists. At one point in the late 30s, the NSDAP
office investigated if he was actually a party member because he had
apparently not pursued his party membership actively. All in all, he
didn't do too well during the regime, and it does not appear as if his
membership gave him any advantages. I think somebody like him was
ultimately too individualistic to do too well under such a totalitarian
regime. Although not an unknown figure in the music scene at the time,
he was still a minor player and not exactly the banner bearing figure
some people have later portrayed him to have been.
Thornhill
2005-11-22 23:15:50 UTC
Permalink
Post by Michael Schaffer
He joined the party actually twice, the first time in 1933
in Salzburg after Nazi officials had just swept through and taken over
all key position in the city administration in Ulm where he was second
conductor, and had sacked a number of people.
You're leaving some info out here. Karajan joined the NSDAP on April 8,
1933, the same day that the Germans announced that all Jews in public
positions in Austria, including orchestras, would eventually be
dismissed. Coincidence? or Karajan hoping to better his chances at
getting a job when the party began filling all the newly open
positions. Some people claim that he was specifically trying to push a
Jewish conductor in Ulm, Otto Schulmann, out of his position as quick
as possible through his party membership; why keep a Jew employed when
there's a party member who needs a job (Kater, "The Twisted Muse" 58).

One of the reasons people continue to doubt Karajan's benign version of
history is because of his personality displayed during the post war
years. He was extremely ambitious, presumptuous and egotistical.
(Didn't he also lie about details of his membership for many years
until faced with the evidence?)

As a musician, you'd think Karajan would have some kind of special
insight into music being banned because of the race of the composer,
and thus, a better than average understanding of the regime he was
working for. Immigration was an option. Look at all the conductors who
left Europe for America where their careers never suffered, such as
Toscanini, Walter, Szell and Ormandy. Karajan, though, was not the type
of person willing to risk his career merely because of the policies of
his employers. But of course, this gets into the issue of conductors
who claimed to oppose the Reich, never joined the party, but also never
left Germany.
Michael Schaffer
2005-11-23 05:00:48 UTC
Permalink
Post by Thornhill
Post by Michael Schaffer
He joined the party actually twice, the first time in 1933
in Salzburg after Nazi officials had just swept through and taken over
all key position in the city administration in Ulm where he was second
conductor, and had sacked a number of people.
You're leaving some info out here. Karajan joined the NSDAP on April 8,
1933, the same day that the Germans announced that all Jews in public
positions in Austria, including orchestras, would eventually be
dismissed. Coincidence? or Karajan hoping to better his chances at
getting a job when the party began filling all the newly open
positions. Some people claim that he was specifically trying to push a
Jewish conductor in Ulm, Otto Schulmann, out of his position as quick
as possible through his party membership; why keep a Jew employed when
there's a party member who needs a job (Kater, "The Twisted Muse" 58).
Interesting detail. I checked out Osborne's Karajan biography from the
local library today to look up what he wrote about this. I have read
some parts of the book, including the parts dealing with Karajan in the
3rd Reich, but don't remember all details.
Is "The Twisted Muse" a good book? They have it at my library too. I
like to read musical background history. Right now I am reading Hart's
Reiner biography. "The Twisted Muse" looks like something I might want
to read.
Post by Thornhill
One of the reasons people continue to doubt Karajan's benign version of
history is because of his personality displayed during the post war
years. He was extremely ambitious, presumptuous and egotistical.
(Didn't he also lie about details of his membership for many years
until faced with the evidence?)
I think he did, or left details out or deliberatley unclear. IIRC,
Osborne mentions that some of the information he provided to the
denazification committee were never proven, for instance his claim that
his party membership had been terminated because he refused to divorce
his wife Anita.
Although I am very interested in the historical background of music and
music making, including the biographies of important musicians, I do
not like to speculate about and judge their characters. I think all or
most of those who make a career have and have to have the character
traits you outlined to a certain degree.
Post by Thornhill
As a musician, you'd think Karajan would have some kind of special
insight into music being banned because of the race of the composer,
and thus, a better than average understanding of the regime he was
working for. Immigration was an option. Look at all the conductors who
left Europe for America where their careers never suffered, such as
Toscanini, Walter, Szell and Ormandy. Karajan, though, was not the type
of person willing to risk his career merely because of the policies of
his employers. But of course, this gets into the issue of conductors
who claimed to oppose the Reich, never joined the party, but also never
left Germany.
The conductors you named are not a good comparison with Karajan's case
because by that time, they already had successful careers and it was
relatively easy for them to go elsewhere (except for Ormandy who IIRC
correctly actually emigrated to the US in the early 20s). I think it
wasn't all that easy to get out if you didn't have contacts or a place
to go to. Even many Jewish people who everybody knew were actively
persecuted couldn't get out because nobody would have them. Karajan was
a nobody, he was just a staff conductor in a tiny provincial theater.
That doesn't mean that he would have wanted to leave - he never tried
later when it would have been easier for him to start something
elsewhere. Like I said before, his career didn't go all that well
during the Reich either. It actually shows that at least at that stage
of his life, he doesn't appear to have been very clever when it came to
political manoeuvres. He could have been much more successful at that
time if he had played the game right.
All that doesn't make him innocent, of course. The picture that emerges
is far from positive. He definitely acted opportunistically, even if it
didn't get him very much, at a time when other people showed a lot more
conscience and awareness of what was going on around them. But neither
does it make him the musical banner bearer of the 3rd Reich as he is
often portrayed. He was rather small potatos in that context, a figure
which nobody today would even remember if he hadn't also happened to be
very talented and went on to make an almost unparalleled career - after
the war.
I am not interested in "excusing" Karajan, BTW. I just think he didn't
play such a big role in the 3rd Reich. I am more interested in
identifying the people who were really responsible for what happened.
Richard Schultz
2005-11-23 05:55:54 UTC
Permalink
In article <***@f14g2000cwb.googlegroups.com>, Michael Schaffer <***@gmail.com> wrote:

: I am not interested in "excusing" Karajan, BTW. I just think he didn't
: play such a big role in the 3rd Reich.

I don't think that anyone ever claimed that he played a big role in the
Third Reich, only that he didn't seem to object to playing along (no pun
intended) with the Nazis if it meant that he could advance his career.

-----
Richard Schultz ***@mail.biu.ac.il
Department of Chemistry, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel
Opinions expressed are mine alone, and not those of Bar-Ilan University
-----
"an optimist is a guy/ that has never had/ much experience"
Thornhill
2005-11-23 06:12:16 UTC
Permalink
Post by Richard Schultz
: I am not interested in "excusing" Karajan, BTW. I just think he didn't
: play such a big role in the 3rd Reich.
I don't think that anyone ever claimed that he played a big role in the
Third Reich, only that he didn't seem to object to playing along (no pun
intended) with the Nazis if it meant that he could advance his career.
Exactly, and the argument people make is precisely that he didn't do
'much.' That's not a defense. I argue, that no matter how small a role
he played, by playing a part he helped further the Reich's agenda. And
as an artists, faced directly with the Reich's racial policies on art
and thus other matters, the 'right thing' to do should have been very
clear to him.
Thornhill
2005-11-23 06:02:28 UTC
Permalink
Post by Michael Schaffer
Interesting detail. I checked out Osborne's Karajan biography from the
local library today to look up what he wrote about this. I have read
some parts of the book, including the parts dealing with Karajan in the
3rd Reich, but don't remember all details.
I wouldn't trust much of what Osborne prints since he acts as Karajan's
representative on Earth.
Post by Michael Schaffer
Is "The Twisted Muse" a good book? They have it at my library too. I
like to read musical background history. Right now I am reading Hart's
Reiner biography. "The Twisted Muse" looks like something I might want
to read.
Lots of excellent information about music during the Reich, though
densely written. Kater clearly lacks the writing ability of someone
like David Kennedy. I should also note that Kater is a somewhat
controversial figure since he comes down so hard on well liked
musicians. But then again, I find that most people try too hard to give
folks like Furtwangler a pass.
Post by Michael Schaffer
Although I am very interested in the historical background of music and
music making, including the biographies of important musicians, I do
not like to speculate about and judge their characters. I think all or
most of those who make a career have and have to have the character
traits you outlined to a certain degree.
I agree, but my point with people like Karajan is that regardless of
what they did or didn't do, by virtue of being musicians, they should
have had a heightened awareness of the Reich's policy by not just the
fact that music was banned, but purely because composers were Jewish;
artists shouldn't be involved in banning art.
Post by Michael Schaffer
The conductors you named are not a good comparison with Karajan's case
because by that time, they already had successful careers and it was
relatively easy for them to go elsewhere (except for Ormandy who IIRC
correctly actually emigrated to the US in the early 20s). I think it
wasn't all that easy to get out if you didn't have contacts or a place
to go to.
First, I think Karajan was more successful in his early career than you
make him out to be. While he was never a star of the Reich, the people
who knew something about music knew his was special. That's why after
the war his career exploded.

Next, someone like Karajan would have had contacts, or at least been
able to get guest gigs in America. Conductors did take care of each
other. Toscanini, for instance, invited young conductors to conduct on
his radio show. This was one of the ways Szell helped make a name for
himself. And upstart American orchestras were desperate for European
talent.

Ormandy, btw, worked himself up from the ground up. He started his
career playing first violin in a movie house orchestra (he was trained
to be a solo violinist), eventually graduated to conducting movie house
orchestras, appointed to Minneapolis, then Philadelphia. Incidentally,
Ormandy and Philadelphia were blackballed from the Salzburg Music
Festival until the '80s by Karajan. At a reception after a Karajan
appearance (I think with Berlin) in Philadelphia, Ormandy refused to
shake Karajan's hand citing Karajan's NSDAP membership and the fact
that the Nazi's flattened the town Ormandy was from. Karajan never got
over the slight.
Post by Michael Schaffer
It actually shows that at least at that stage
of his life, he doesn't appear to have been very clever when it came to
political manoeuvres. He could have been much more successful at that
time if he had played the game right.
The inner workings of the Reich are a bit more complicated than that.
Success basically came down to personal preference of a few key people,
but really manly Goebbels.

I'm not sure how exactly you punish complacent artists in the Reich who
helped further the Nazi claims of cultural superiority and thus racial
superority -- you probably can't punish them -- but I feel a lot of
people got away a little too clean.
Michael Schaffer
2005-11-23 09:58:51 UTC
Permalink
Post by Thornhill
Post by Michael Schaffer
Interesting detail. I checked out Osborne's Karajan biography from the
local library today to look up what he wrote about this. I have read
some parts of the book, including the parts dealing with Karajan in the
3rd Reich, but don't remember all details.
I wouldn't trust much of what Osborne prints since he acts as Karajan's
representative on Earth.
From the parts that I read I didn't get that impression. The tone
overall is fairly neutral and it makes a well researched impression on
me. It does contain positive assessments of what Osborne considers to
be Karajan's good artistic achievements, but it also contains critical
views about both artistic and personal actions of Karajan, and it does
not appear to me to try to tone down his role in the NS era, as hard as
that is for us to judge from where we are. For instance, he comments on
the arguments that Karajan made in his defence during denazification
proceedings and lets the reader know for which of those claims there is
no proof or what appears to be contradictory in Karajan's version of
the events. All in all, he is fairly neutral and just reports the
events.
Post by Thornhill
Post by Michael Schaffer
Is "The Twisted Muse" a good book? They have it at my library too. I
like to read musical background history. Right now I am reading Hart's
Reiner biography. "The Twisted Muse" looks like something I might want
to read.
Lots of excellent information about music during the Reich, though
densely written. Kater clearly lacks the writing ability of someone
like David Kennedy. I should also note that Kater is a somewhat
controversial figure since he comes down so hard on well liked
musicians. But then again, I find that most people try too hard to give
folks like Furtwangler a pass.
I think both positions are questionable because the truth is very
complex, too complex maybe for us to grasp. I also don't feel we are in
a position to judge people who were in a much more difficult situation
than most of us are today. In some cases, namely when it comes to
people who actively advanced the regime and committed crimes
themselves, that may be rather easy. In many other cases it isn't.
I read Prieberg's book "Kraftprobe" which is also densely packed with
information - in fact it's so much it makes your head spin with all the
people and what they did and their personal, artistic, and political
relationships - and I still haven't figured out what to think about
Furtwängler's role in the 3rd Reich.
I do think they made an unfortunate contribution, however small or big
it was, to the "glory of the thousand year Reich", but I also think
they paid by not being allowed to continue what they did for a few
years and having to face inverstigation and denazification. It's not
like Karajan made a great career right up to end of the war, and then
just continued smiling from where he was. I am pretty sure he would
have though, but the allies saw to it that it wasn't that easy for
people who were entangled with the Nazis, to whatever degree.
Post by Thornhill
Post by Michael Schaffer
Although I am very interested in the historical background of music and
music making, including the biographies of important musicians, I do
not like to speculate about and judge their characters. I think all or
most of those who make a career have and have to have the character
traits you outlined to a certain degree.
I agree, but my point with people like Karajan is that regardless of
what they did or didn't do, by virtue of being musicians, they should
have had a heightened awareness of the Reich's policy by not just the
fact that music was banned, but purely because composers were Jewish;
artists shouldn't be involved in banning art.
Post by Michael Schaffer
The conductors you named are not a good comparison with Karajan's case
because by that time, they already had successful careers and it was
relatively easy for them to go elsewhere (except for Ormandy who IIRC
correctly actually emigrated to the US in the early 20s). I think it
wasn't all that easy to get out if you didn't have contacts or a place
to go to.
First, I think Karajan was more successful in his early career than you
make him out to be. While he was never a star of the Reich, the people
who knew something about music knew his was special. That's why after
the war his career exploded.
Next, someone like Karajan would have had contacts, or at least been
able to get guest gigs in America. Conductors did take care of each
other. Toscanini, for instance, invited young conductors to conduct on
his radio show. This was one of the ways Szell helped make a name for
himself. And upstart American orchestras were desperate for European
talent.
I think you are contradicting yourself here a little bit: if people
already knew Karajan was a special talent - which they did from about
the mid-30s onward, when he had become GMD in Aachen and started
appearing in Berlin - how come he wasn't a bigger star?
Here is another point worth reflecting on which I know may provoke
some: why should he have left Germany in the early years of the regime
because of the new racist legislation - and then go to America where
racial laws had been in existence for a long time and would even
continue to be so for decades after Hitler put the pistol in his mouth?
It is much easier for us today to look back in the knowledge of
everything that happened and of the genocide which later took place,
but what happened in the early years of the regime wasn't that unusual
at all for its time. Many of who left didn't do so for humanistic
reasons or out of principle - Toscanini was probably the one big
noteable exception in that he could have had the Italian fascists kiss
his feet, but his conscience chose otherwise -, but because they were
among the targeted political or racial groups. Racism and political
persecution in various forms, even in legislated forms, however existed
in many places at the time, and most people were only concerned about
the forms of persecution that happened to target their own religious,
ethnic, political or whatever groups.
Post by Thornhill
Ormandy, btw, worked himself up from the ground up. He started his
career playing first violin in a movie house orchestra (he was trained
to be a solo violinist), eventually graduated to conducting movie house
orchestras, appointed to Minneapolis, then Philadelphia. Incidentally,
Ormandy and Philadelphia were blackballed from the Salzburg Music
Festival until the '80s by Karajan. At a reception after a Karajan
appearance (I think with Berlin) in Philadelphia, Ormandy refused to
shake Karajan's hand citing Karajan's NSDAP membership and the fact
that the Nazi's flattened the town Ormandy was from. Karajan never got
over the slight.
I thought Ormany was from Budapest. Which wasn't flattened by the Nazis
AFAIK. In fact, Hungary had its very own fascists who were long in
place before the Nazis and who cooperated throughout most of the war
with Germany. The fascists weren't in place at the time when Ormandy
emigrated to the US. It still was a very chaotic and tumultous time in
Hungarian history. He probably emigrated for economic reasons, to try
his luck in the New World, which was his priviledge of course, but it
doesn't look like he was among the persecuted. Maybe with that
"dramatic" gesture he wanted to help himself to a little bit of the
memory of the truly persecuted. Ironically, he had just accepted an
invitation to the Salzburg Festival - where Karajan was one of the
people pulling the strings - to appear with the Wiener Philharmoniker,
not exactly free of associations with the NS era either, in former Nazi
country. That makes him look a lot less "principled". I think Karajan
was right in not inviting him anymore.
Ormandy did conduct and record "Carmina Burana", BTW, that "Nazi
music".
Post by Thornhill
Post by Michael Schaffer
It actually shows that at least at that stage
of his life, he doesn't appear to have been very clever when it came to
political manoeuvres. He could have been much more successful at that
time if he had played the game right.
The inner workings of the Reich are a bit more complicated than that.
Success basically came down to personal preference of a few key people,
but really manly Goebbels.
Like you said yourself: The inner workings of the Reich are a bit more
complicated than that. Or actually they were, since it's gone now. Yes,
it appears that the main ingredient for success was being favored by
key people like Goebbels, and it looks like people like Furtwängler
and Karajan were used as chess pieces in the power games that people
like Goebbels and Goering played with each other, and I think neither
of them looks very good in the way they allowed themselves to be part
of that.
Post by Thornhill
I'm not sure how exactly you punish complacent artists in the Reich who
helped further the Nazi claims of cultural superiority and thus racial
superority -- you probably can't punish them -- but I feel a lot of
people got away a little too clean.
Well, like I said above, they did have to face investigation and were
banned from working for some time, and that seems to me to have been an
appropriate way of addressing what they did.
g***@gmail.com
2017-02-02 04:33:25 UTC
Permalink
Post by Thornhill
Post by Michael Schaffer
Interesting detail. I checked out Osborne's Karajan biography from the
local library today to look up what he wrote about this. I have read
some parts of the book, including the parts dealing with Karajan in the
3rd Reich, but don't remember all details.
I wouldn't trust much of what Osborne prints since he acts as Karajan's
representative on Earth.
Post by Michael Schaffer
Is "The Twisted Muse" a good book? They have it at my library too. I
like to read musical background history. Right now I am reading Hart's
Reiner biography. "The Twisted Muse" looks like something I might want
to read.
Lots of excellent information about music during the Reich, though
densely written. Kater clearly lacks the writing ability of someone
like David Kennedy. I should also note that Kater is a somewhat
controversial figure since he comes down so hard on well liked
musicians. But then again, I find that most people try too hard to give
folks like Furtwangler a pass.
Post by Michael Schaffer
Although I am very interested in the historical background of music and
music making, including the biographies of important musicians, I do
not like to speculate about and judge their characters. I think all or
most of those who make a career have and have to have the character
traits you outlined to a certain degree.
I agree, but my point with people like Karajan is that regardless of
what they did or didn't do, by virtue of being musicians, they should
have had a heightened awareness of the Reich's policy by not just the
fact that music was banned, but purely because composers were Jewish;
artists shouldn't be involved in banning art.
Post by Michael Schaffer
The conductors you named are not a good comparison with Karajan's case
because by that time, they already had successful careers and it was
relatively easy for them to go elsewhere (except for Ormandy who IIRC
correctly actually emigrated to the US in the early 20s). I think it
wasn't all that easy to get out if you didn't have contacts or a place
to go to.
First, I think Karajan was more successful in his early career than you
make him out to be. While he was never a star of the Reich, the people
who knew something about music knew his was special. That's why after
the war his career exploded.
Next, someone like Karajan would have had contacts, or at least been
able to get guest gigs in America. Conductors did take care of each
other. Toscanini, for instance, invited young conductors to conduct on
his radio show. This was one of the ways Szell helped make a name for
himself. And upstart American orchestras were desperate for European
talent.
Ormandy, btw, worked himself up from the ground up. He started his
career playing first violin in a movie house orchestra (he was trained
to be a solo violinist), eventually graduated to conducting movie house
orchestras, appointed to Minneapolis, then Philadelphia. Incidentally,
Ormandy and Philadelphia were blackballed from the Salzburg Music
Festival until the '80s by Karajan. At a reception after a Karajan
appearance (I think with Berlin) in Philadelphia, Ormandy refused to
shake Karajan's hand citing Karajan's NSDAP membership and the fact
that the Nazi's flattened the town Ormandy was from. Karajan never got
over the slight.
Post by Michael Schaffer
It actually shows that at least at that stage
of his life, he doesn't appear to have been very clever when it came to
political manoeuvres. He could have been much more successful at that
time if he had played the game right.
The inner workings of the Reich are a bit more complicated than that.
Success basically came down to personal preference of a few key people,
but really manly Goebbels...
His secretary recently died:

- What she recounted in the film is a warning to the current and future generations.

http://www.scotsman.com/news/world/nazi-propaganda-minister-josef-goebbels-secretary-dies-at-106-1-4353344
Ian Pace
2005-11-23 12:02:47 UTC
Permalink
Post by Michael Schaffer
Post by Paul Goldstein
Post by e***@aol.com
I cant seem to remember which conductor or conductors refused to touch
the piece, saying it was 'fascist music'. Klemperer perhaps?
Klemperer, Karajan, Solti, and Bernstein are among the most prolific recording
conductors who did not record the piece. I don't know that any of them ever
explained why.
Karajan conducted Carmina Burana a few times in 1941 and 42, and then
again in Milano in the 50s, but never again afterwards. He later
conducted the world premiere of Orff's De Temporum Fine Comoedia. I
have no idea what he thought about the music, and if he didn't perform
it anymore because some people associate it with an era in history that
Karajan himself wasn't too happy to have been part of. I don't
understand what is supposed to be fascist about Carmina Burana though.
It's a collection of medieval drinking and love songs set in a musical
style probably closest to some of Stravinsky's works like Les Noces.
The type of idealised medievalism, primitivism and bestial chanting accords
all-too-well with Nazi aesthetics, whilst the use of very simple material
repeated incessantly, in an almost frenzied manner, operates by the rules of
propaganda. I still find it infectious, though, whilst aware of how starkly
manipulative the piece is.

Ian
Wayne Reimer
2005-11-23 22:20:19 UTC
Permalink
<...>
Post by Ian Pace
The type of idealised medievalism, primitivism and bestial chanting accords
all-too-well with Nazi aesthetics, whilst the use of very simple material
repeated incessantly, in an almost frenzied manner, operates by the rules of
propaganda. I still find it infectious, though, whilst aware of how starkly
manipulative the piece is.
"bestial chanting" ?!?!

BTW, music that gets performed more than once is pretty much always
manipulative - that's why, in fact, it functions as "music" (in the
commonly understood, if somewhat vague, meaning of the word).

wr
Ian Pace
2005-11-24 01:47:21 UTC
Permalink
Post by Wayne Reimer
<...>
Post by Ian Pace
The type of idealised medievalism, primitivism and bestial chanting accords
all-too-well with Nazi aesthetics, whilst the use of very simple material
repeated incessantly, in an almost frenzied manner, operates by the rules of
propaganda. I still find it infectious, though, whilst aware of how starkly
manipulative the piece is.
"bestial chanting" ?!?!
Groups of people chanting like a crazed herd of wild animals in for the
kill.
Post by Wayne Reimer
BTW, music that gets performed more than once is pretty much always
manipulative - that's why, in fact, it functions as "music" (in the
commonly understood, if somewhat vague, meaning of the word).
NO!!!!!!!!!!!! No, no, no, no, no. :) There's a world of difference between
'affecting' music and that which is crassly manipulative, designed to pummel
the listener into submission (quite a bit of minimalist music does this, as
does rave culture, also). Manipulative music discourages any sort of
reflection, contemplation or anything else that requires a more subjective
input on the part of the listener. In no sense are these qualities intrinsic
to something's being able to function as "music", nor do I think that much
of the best music functions that way (though crass performers sometimes try
to appropriate it in this manner in order to make a big splash).

If I can quote from the beginning of the influential but appalling work on
propaganda by Edward Bernays (the father of modern PR, and admired by
Goebbels, I believe):

The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and
opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those
who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible
government which is the true ruling power of our country. ... We are
governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested,
largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way
in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings
must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly
functioning society. ... In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in
the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical
thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons ... who
understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is
they who pull the wires which control the public mind.

(Edward Bernays - 'Propaganda' (New York, 1928, modern edition 2005), p.37)

(I argue the book is appalling because Bernays doesn't suggest that such a
state of affairs might be a bad thing)

When music operates by these principles, and 'controls the public mind',
there is a lot to worry about, I believe. It is no coincidence to me that
Orff's music has been used for a wide range of advertising campaigns.

By the way, I'm not arguing that music shouldn't engage with these types of
things (on the contrary, I think it's vital that music and culture in
general do so), but I am arguing against an undialectical and uncritical
acceptance of such crass means of communication, which I do think are
fascistic in nature.

Ian
Wayne Reimer
2005-11-25 04:39:16 UTC
Permalink
Post by Ian Pace
Post by Wayne Reimer
<...>
Post by Ian Pace
The type of idealised medievalism, primitivism and bestial chanting accords
all-too-well with Nazi aesthetics, whilst the use of very simple material
repeated incessantly, in an almost frenzied manner, operates by the rules of
propaganda. I still find it infectious, though, whilst aware of how starkly
manipulative the piece is.
"bestial chanting" ?!?!
Groups of people chanting like a crazed herd of wild animals in for the
kill.
I've never had the experience of hearing animals chant. Must be quite
something.
Post by Ian Pace
Post by Wayne Reimer
BTW, music that gets performed more than once is pretty much always
manipulative - that's why, in fact, it functions as "music" (in the
commonly understood, if somewhat vague, meaning of the word).
NO!!!!!!!!!!!! No, no, no, no, no. :) There's a world of difference between
'affecting' music and that which is crassly manipulative, designed to pummel
the listener into submission (quite a bit of minimalist music does this, as
does rave culture, also). Manipulative music discourages any sort of
reflection, contemplation or anything else that requires a more subjective
input on the part of the listener. In no sense are these qualities intrinsic
to something's being able to function as "music", nor do I think that much
of the best music functions that way (though crass performers sometimes try
to appropriate it in this manner in order to make a big splash).
I guess I don't define "manipulative" quite as narrowly as you. Seems
to me that anytime music does anything at all to me, I've been
manipulated by it in some way. Oftentimes, I enjoy the experience.
Post by Ian Pace
If I can quote from the beginning of the influential but appalling work on
propaganda by Edward Bernays (the father of modern PR, and admired by
The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and
opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those
who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible
government which is the true ruling power of our country. ... We are
governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested,
largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way
in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings
must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly
functioning society. ... In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in
the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical
thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons ... who
understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is
they who pull the wires which control the public mind.
(Edward Bernays - 'Propaganda' (New York, 1928, modern edition 2005), p.37)
(I argue the book is appalling because Bernays doesn't suggest that such a
state of affairs might be a bad thing)
When music operates by these principles, and 'controls the public mind',
there is a lot to worry about, I believe. It is no coincidence to me that
Orff's music has been used for a wide range of advertising campaigns.
The purpose of advertising and marketing is to 'control the public
mind'. That catchy or iconic classical music gets appropriated into
that effort is hardly the fault of the music. There are many examples
other than Carmina: while I don't watch TV anymore and so miss most of
that stuff these days, I can remember commercial usage of Beethoven,
Bach, Chopin, Gershwin, Vivaldi, Copland, Barber, Mozart, Tschaikovsky.
In particular, extensive use has been made of Beethoven's 5th Sym.,
Bach's d min. Toccata and Fugue, and Barber's Adagio for Strings. All
music with fascist tendencies, I guess.
Post by Ian Pace
By the way, I'm not arguing that music shouldn't engage with these types of
things (on the contrary, I think it's vital that music and culture in
general do so), but I am arguing against an undialectical and uncritical
acceptance of such crass means of communication, which I do think are
fascistic in nature.
In other words, if more than just a tiny handful of people like a piece
of music without going into mental fits over it to make sure they
aren't having some sort of untoward mind-controlling experience, it's
because it's fascist music. That certainly expands fascism to cover
the bulk of music, of all types.

wr
Ian Pace
2005-11-27 11:01:17 UTC
Permalink
Post by Wayne Reimer
Post by Ian Pace
Post by Wayne Reimer
BTW, music that gets performed more than once is pretty much always
manipulative - that's why, in fact, it functions as "music" (in the
commonly understood, if somewhat vague, meaning of the word).
NO!!!!!!!!!!!! No, no, no, no, no. :) There's a world of difference between
'affecting' music and that which is crassly manipulative, designed to pummel
the listener into submission (quite a bit of minimalist music does this, as
does rave culture, also). Manipulative music discourages any sort of
reflection, contemplation or anything else that requires a more subjective
input on the part of the listener. In no sense are these qualities intrinsic
to something's being able to function as "music", nor do I think that much
of the best music functions that way (though crass performers sometimes try
to appropriate it in this manner in order to make a big splash).
I guess I don't define "manipulative" quite as narrowly as you. Seems
to me that anytime music does anything at all to me, I've been
manipulated by it in some way. Oftentimes, I enjoy the experience.
I think we do have a different definition of the term, yes. Manipulation is
fundamentally something 'false' to me, which is very different to being
affected by a highly personal piece of music (as I feel most of the best
music is). It's not easy to define precisely how such a distinction is made
manifest in a work of music, I find, but I can identify it very clearly when
I listen.
Post by Wayne Reimer
Post by Ian Pace
If I can quote from the beginning of the influential but appalling work on
propaganda by Edward Bernays (the father of modern PR, and admired by
The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and
opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those
who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible
government which is the true ruling power of our country. ... We are
governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested,
largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way
in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings
must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly
functioning society. ... In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in
the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical
thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons ... who
understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is
they who pull the wires which control the public mind.
(Edward Bernays - 'Propaganda' (New York, 1928, modern edition 2005), p.37)
(I argue the book is appalling because Bernays doesn't suggest that such a
state of affairs might be a bad thing)
When music operates by these principles, and 'controls the public mind',
there is a lot to worry about, I believe. It is no coincidence to me that
Orff's music has been used for a wide range of advertising campaigns.
The purpose of advertising and marketing is to 'control the public
mind'. That catchy or iconic classical music gets appropriated into
that effort is hardly the fault of the music. There are many examples
other than Carmina: while I don't watch TV anymore and so miss most of
that stuff these days, I can remember commercial usage of Beethoven,
Bach, Chopin, Gershwin, Vivaldi, Copland, Barber, Mozart, Tschaikovsky.
In particular, extensive use has been made of Beethoven's 5th Sym.,
Bach's d min. Toccata and Fugue, and Barber's Adagio for Strings. All
music with fascist tendencies, I guess.
Note that not all music works equally well for that purpose, though - as you
say, the stuff that gets used is that which is 'catchy or iconic' i.e. that
which either generates an unambiguous reaction (requiring little active
participation from the listener) or has simply become symbolic through
frequent reiteration. Generally it has to be presented in reduced
'sound-bite' form as well. All of this is about obliterating all the more
intricate and ambiguous elements of music in favour of a 'lowest common
denominator' approach. And that was indeed how fascist propaganda operated.
Post by Wayne Reimer
Post by Ian Pace
By the way, I'm not arguing that music shouldn't engage with these types of
things (on the contrary, I think it's vital that music and culture in
general do so), but I am arguing against an undialectical and uncritical
acceptance of such crass means of communication, which I do think are
fascistic in nature.
In other words, if more than just a tiny handful of people like a piece
of music without going into mental fits over it to make sure they
aren't having some sort of untoward mind-controlling experience, it's
because it's fascist music. That certainly expands fascism to cover
the bulk of music, of all types.
This is not at all about denying the value of music that appeals to more
than 'a tiny handful of people'. It's placing value upon that which elevates
the status of the listener, making a virtue out of their ability to arrive
at a unique and personal reaction to that which they hear.

Ian
Wayne Reimer
2005-11-29 09:19:22 UTC
Permalink
Post by Ian Pace
Post by Wayne Reimer
Post by Ian Pace
Post by Wayne Reimer
BTW, music that gets performed more than once is pretty much always
manipulative - that's why, in fact, it functions as "music" (in the
commonly understood, if somewhat vague, meaning of the word).
NO!!!!!!!!!!!! No, no, no, no, no. :) There's a world of difference between
'affecting' music and that which is crassly manipulative, designed to pummel
the listener into submission (quite a bit of minimalist music does this, as
does rave culture, also). Manipulative music discourages any sort of
reflection, contemplation or anything else that requires a more subjective
input on the part of the listener. In no sense are these qualities intrinsic
to something's being able to function as "music", nor do I think that much
of the best music functions that way (though crass performers sometimes try
to appropriate it in this manner in order to make a big splash).
I guess I don't define "manipulative" quite as narrowly as you. Seems
to me that anytime music does anything at all to me, I've been
manipulated by it in some way. Oftentimes, I enjoy the experience.
I think we do have a different definition of the term, yes. Manipulation is
fundamentally something 'false' to me, which is very different to being
affected by a highly personal piece of music (as I feel most of the best
music is). It's not easy to define precisely how such a distinction is made
manifest in a work of music, I find, but I can identify it very clearly when
I listen.
Oh, for heaven's sake...art music that has been composed is going to be
fundamentally "false" no matter what, simply because of its nature.
That "art" and "artifice" have the same root is not merely a semantic
coincidence. I take it you must feel that CB is "false" in the sense
you seem to be talking about, but I have no idea of why, or how *your*
feeling about it relates to anyone else. I think CB is, for want of
better terms, as "sincere" or personal as other classical music, by and
large. It actually stikes my ear and psyche as quite a bit less
"manipulative" than much of the music of, say, R. Strauss and Mahler,
even though it is quite a bit more direct.

To move sort of sideways and approach this in a different way - it
seems to me that Beethoven's music is intensely personal, and it gets
more so as the opus numbers go higher, but it also seems to me to be
exquisitely calculated and manipulative. I just can't fathom why
"personal" and "manipulative" would be mutually exclusive. AFAIK, LvB
knew quite well the responses that his music produced in people (not
all people, certainly, but those who knew how to listen to his stuff,
particularly the later things) and wrote his music with an awareness of
the music's effect on others. I don't see that as negative or
insincere. To my way of understanding what he was up to, he very much
wanted people to have a musical experience as close to his own as he
could possibly make happen (ultimately as an expression of love), and
he worked very hard at manipulating them into a state of mind that he
wanted to convey.

I realize that the typical usage for "manipulative" connotates a
negative kind of messing around with people's minds or will, but I
can't think of a word that conveys exactly the same kind of process,
but in a positive light, so I stick with "manipulative" to cover both
the positive and negative aspects of that kind of deliberate or
intentional adjustment of other peoples' interior states.
Post by Ian Pace
Post by Wayne Reimer
Post by Ian Pace
If I can quote from the beginning of the influential but appalling work on
propaganda by Edward Bernays (the father of modern PR, and admired by
The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and
opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those
who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible
government which is the true ruling power of our country. ... We are
governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested,
largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way
in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings
must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly
functioning society. ... In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in
the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical
thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons ... who
understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is
they who pull the wires which control the public mind.
(Edward Bernays - 'Propaganda' (New York, 1928, modern edition 2005), p.37)
(I argue the book is appalling because Bernays doesn't suggest that such a
state of affairs might be a bad thing)
When music operates by these principles, and 'controls the public mind',
there is a lot to worry about, I believe. It is no coincidence to me that
Orff's music has been used for a wide range of advertising campaigns.
The purpose of advertising and marketing is to 'control the public
mind'. That catchy or iconic classical music gets appropriated into
that effort is hardly the fault of the music. There are many examples
other than Carmina: while I don't watch TV anymore and so miss most of
that stuff these days, I can remember commercial usage of Beethoven,
Bach, Chopin, Gershwin, Vivaldi, Copland, Barber, Mozart, Tschaikovsky.
In particular, extensive use has been made of Beethoven's 5th Sym.,
Bach's d min. Toccata and Fugue, and Barber's Adagio for Strings. All
music with fascist tendencies, I guess.
Note that not all music works equally well for that purpose,
Why note it? It's hardly news or surprising that relatively simple
music that is easy to recognize from one hearing to the next and that
has a specific and strong affect will work better for advertising than
relatively complex music that is hard to remember and that doesn't
evoke a universal or near universal emotional affect. So what? Why
wouldn't advertising people (and political parties, for that matter)
make use of materials which already exist and are available to them?

Mind you, I don't like how all this works and how it seems that vast
numbers of people seem to be willfully ignorant of how they are being
used essentially as fodder for a system that cares nothing for their
individual lives. But that's not the issue here, I don't think.
Post by Ian Pace
though - as you
say, the stuff that gets used is that which is 'catchy or iconic' i.e. that
which either generates an unambiguous reaction (requiring little active
participation from the listener) or has simply become symbolic through
frequent reiteration. Generally it has to be presented in reduced
'sound-bite' form as well. All of this is about obliterating all the more
intricate and ambiguous elements of music in favour of a 'lowest common
denominator' approach. And that was indeed how fascist propaganda operated.
Post by Wayne Reimer
Post by Ian Pace
By the way, I'm not arguing that music shouldn't engage with these types of
things (on the contrary, I think it's vital that music and culture in
general do so), but I am arguing against an undialectical and uncritical
acceptance of such crass means of communication, which I do think are
fascistic in nature.
In other words, if more than just a tiny handful of people like a piece
of music without going into mental fits over it to make sure they
aren't having some sort of untoward mind-controlling experience, it's
because it's fascist music. That certainly expands fascism to cover
the bulk of music, of all types.
This is not at all about denying the value of music that appeals to more
than 'a tiny handful of people'. It's placing value upon that which elevates
the status of the listener, making a virtue out of their ability to arrive
at a unique and personal reaction to that which they hear.
Do you think that Carmina Burana creates the same reaction in all
listeners, then? Just to cite one difference, it never has crossed my
mind that CB included bestial chanting before zeroing in for the kill,
and now that you've aired the thought, it still doesn't work for me.
It is your unique and personal reaction, and is shaped by who you are,
I think, and not by the music.

wr
Ralph
2005-11-24 23:29:22 UTC
Permalink
And the best recording of Carmina Burana might be...?

Thanks
Ralph
The Historian
2005-11-24 23:33:54 UTC
Permalink
Post by Ralph
And the best recording of Carmina Burana might be...?
Thanks
Ralph
Ormandy/PO, Previn/LSO
Michael Schaffer
2005-11-24 23:41:12 UTC
Permalink
Post by The Historian
Post by Ralph
And the best recording of Carmina Burana might be...?
Thanks
Ralph
Ormandy/PO, Previn/LSO
Jochum with Fischer-Dieskau, Janowitz and the choir and orchestra of
the Deutsche Oper Berlin (on DG), recorded under the composer's
supervision. Jochum brings a lot of the humor out that other
interpreters miss and gives attention to the surprisingly many details
this allegedly simply cut score has. The singing and playing is first
rate and the recording pretty good, too.
Simon Roberts
2005-11-25 01:09:13 UTC
Permalink
Post by Ralph
And the best recording of Carmina Burana might be...?
My vote goes to Jochum/DG, the most theatrical/characterful recording I've
heard.

Simon
Paul Goldstein
2005-11-25 01:20:40 UTC
Permalink
Post by Ralph
And the best recording of Carmina Burana might be...?
My favorite is the Herrera de la Fuente.
Ed Presson
2005-11-25 17:45:56 UTC
Permalink
Post by Paul Goldstein
Post by Ralph
And the best recording of Carmina Burana might be...?
My favorite is the Herrera de la Fuente.
Probably my favorite, too. I also like Ozawa (RCA) and the old mono
Sawallich once available as an Angel LP.

Ed Presson
Matthew B. Tepper
2005-11-25 05:27:53 UTC
Permalink
Post by Ralph
And the best recording of Carmina Burana might be...?
There are no "best" recordings, only favorites. I've already put in my votes
for Schmidt-Isserstedt and Shaw. This should not suggest that I've heard all
or even most of them, just that these two are all I feel I need.
--
Matthew B. Tepper: WWW, science fiction, classical music, ducks!
My personal home page -- http://home.earthlink.net/~oy/index.html
My main music page --- http://home.earthlink.net/~oy/berlioz.html
To write to me, do for my address what Androcles did for the lion
I ask you to judge me by the enemies I have made. ~ FDR (attrib.)
William Sommerwerck
2005-11-23 00:37:21 UTC
Permalink
Post by Paul Goldstein
Klemperer, Karajan, Solti, and Bernstein are among the most prolific
recording conductors who did not record the piece. I don't know that
any of them ever explained why.
How about vulgar, cheap, trashy, etc?
s***@online.no
2005-11-23 08:14:45 UTC
Permalink
Post by William Sommerwerck
Post by Paul Goldstein
Klemperer, Karajan, Solti, and Bernstein are among the most prolific
recording conductors who did not record the piece. I don't know that
any of them ever explained why.
How about vulgar, cheap, trashy, etc?
Carmina Burana would probably have become vulgar in a "refined"
version by Karajan. Much banality and bad taste can be hidden in
"refinement", if one think about it. The work in the right hands I
find highly enjoyable, like few other works of that period. Superb
originality! The composer experimented with some primitive or medieval
means of expression. So what? Picasso was inspired by African masks.
The trick is to take it for what it is, and not try to look for things
you usually find in Prokofiev or Strauss. The freshness and LACK of
vulgarity makes me prefer it to any of the Shostakovitch so called main
works, say (his smaller pieces for ballet and film may be another
matter).

(All the talk about Karajan and the III.Reich I find tedious and
futile. One has to know everything to judge a person. But who knows
everything? And when it comes to judging, our children and
grandchildren will probably judge us- the vast majority- harsher than
we judge the Germans who made Hitler happen. They will ask how could we
- in our egoism and greediness- allow the rainforests and choral reefs
with their tens of thousands of species disappear forever, or how we
could allow the planet to turn into a poisonous, radioactive desert.
Things like that. We all knew what was happening, they will say, or we
ought to know). O.S.
Dan Koren
2005-11-24 02:05:41 UTC
Permalink
Post by Paul Goldstein
Post by e***@aol.com
I cant seem to remember which conductor or conductors refused to touch
the piece, saying it was 'fascist music'. Klemperer perhaps?
Klemperer, Karajan, Solti, and Bernstein are among the most prolific recording
conductors who did not record the piece. I don't know that any of them ever
explained why.
It is bad, tasteless music, plain and simple.

How much explanation does that require ?!?



dk
Ian Pace
2005-11-24 02:02:35 UTC
Permalink
I thought it might be worth posting Richard Taruskin's essay on Carmina
Burana (not that I'm a fan of his writings by any means) at this point.

http://www.edu-cyberpg.com/Music/orff.html

Carl Orff in His Time
Speech on the occasion of Carl Orff's 100th birthday Munich,
Prinzregententheater, 7 July 1995
© 1995 Hans Maier Translated by Margaret Murray Produced by Schott Musik
International, Mainz
In cooperation with Orff-Zentrum Munich

Orff's Musical and Moral Failings
By RICHARD TARUSKIN NYT May 6, 2001
http://query.nytimes.com/search/query?query=orff&date=full

Was Carl Orff a Nazi?

DON'T look now, but Leon Botstein and the American Symphony Orchestra are
teasing us again about music and politics. In recent concerts they have
given us politically excruciating but musically attractive cantatas by Franz
Schmidt, who toadied to Hitler, and Sergei Prokofiev, who did it to Stalin.
As a follow-up, one might expect a program of musically excruciating but
politically attractive works.
But no, we don't need the American Symphony for that. Such pieces are all
over the map, what with Joseph Schwantner's banalities in praise of the Rev.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. ("New Morning for the World"), John Harbison's in
furtherance of Middle East peace ("Four Psalms"), Ellen Taaffe Zwilich's in
defense of the environment (Symphony No. 4: "The Gardens") or Philip Glass's
on behalf of every piety in sight (Symphony No. 5: "Requiem, Bardo,
Nirmanakaya"), just to name a few.

Instead, the same formula, with its implied torture to our collective
conscience, will be ridden again, pitting politics everybody loves to hate
against music many hate to love but find vexingly irresistible. Under the
title "After `Carmina Burana': A Historical Perspective," the orchestra is
sponsoring a daylong symposium next Sunday at LaGuardia High School near
Lincoln Center, and a concert on May 16 at Avery Fisher Hall, devoted to
Carl Orff's "Catulli Carmina" (1943) and his rarely heard "Trionfo di
Afrodite" (1951).

Together with "Carmina Burana" (1936), which, as it happens, Zdenek Macal
and the New Jersey Symphony will perform beginning on May 16 at the New
Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, these two cantatas or, as
originally intended, choral ballets make up a trilogy called "Trionfi,"
first performed at La Scala in Milan in 1953. Widely regarded as a magnified
(or inflated) and popularized (or dumbed- down) sequel to (or knockoff of)
"Les Noces," Stravinsky's choral ballet of 1923, "Trionfi" stands as a
monument to . . . what? The triumph of artistic independence (and prescient
accessibility) in an age of musical hermeticism and conformism mandated by
the cold war? The persistence of instinctive affirmation of life in an age
of thermonuclear threat and existential disillusion? The survival of
Nazi-inspired artistic barbarism under cover of classical simplicity?

The possibilities don't end there, although these three have had vocal
exponents, and they will probably get a heated airing at the symposium. But
why, exactly, has the Nazi taint stuck so doggedly to Orff, who (unlike
Herbert von Karajan or Elisabeth Schwarzkopf) never belonged to the Nazi
Party? Is it because two-thirds of his trilogy was very successfully
performed under Nazi auspices? If being loved by the Nazis were enough to
damn, we would have to take leave not only of Orff, and not only of Wagner,
but also of Bach, Beethoven and Brahms. Is it because Orff's cantatas are
the only musical fruits of the Third Reich (apart, perhaps, from the later,
less popular operas of Richard Strauss) to survive in active repertory
today? Then why do we tolerate all that Soviet music?

Or is it merely because the Nazis offer an "objective" pretext for dismissal
to those who subjectively disapprove of Orff's music for other reasons:
reasons having to do, could it be, with prudery?

Unlike Prokofiev and Shostakovich, Orff never wrote music in actual praise
of his Leader or explicitly touting a totalitarian party line. Prokofiev's
"Toast to Stalin," performed by the American Symphony in December, is fairly
well known. Shostakovich's film score for "The Fall of Berlin" ends with a
resounding paean to the dictator. ( It will take a heap of ingenuity to find
hidden dissidence in that one.) Both Russians also wrote plenty of Communist
mass songs to order. Orff's controversial cantatas, by contrast, set
medieval German poetry (in Latin and Bavarian dialect), and classical texts
by Catullus, Sappho and Euripides in the original languages, along with
additional Latin lyrics by the composer himself, a trained "humanist."

The worst Orff can be accused of is opportunism. He accepted a 1938
commission from the mayor of Frankfurt to compose incidental music for "A
Midsummer Night's Dream" to replace Mendelssohn's racially banned score. But
even here, an extenuating case can be argued. Shakespeare's play had long
attracted Orff. He had composed music for it as early as 1917, and he added
more in 1927, before there was any Nazi government to curry favor with.

Shabbier than anything he did under the Nazis was his behavior immediately
after the war. An obvious beneficiary of the regime, one of only 12
composers to receive a full military exemption from Goebbels's propaganda
ministry, Orff regaled his denazification
interrogators with half-truths and outright lies to get himself classified
Gray- Acceptable (that is, professionally employable) by the Allied military
government.

The "Midsummer" score, he assured them, was not composed under orders (true
only insofar as a commission can be distinguished from an order). "He swears
that it was not written to try to replace Mendelssohn's music," reads the
official report filed by the American officer in charge of political
screenings, "and he admits that he chose an unfortunate moment in history to
write it." Orff also maintained that "he never had any connection with
prominent Nazis." the truth of such a statement depends, of course, on
definitions: of "prominent" as well as "Nazi."

But these prevarications pale before the whopper Orff put over on his
personal hearing officer: Capt. Newell Jenkins, a musician who had studied
with Orff before the war and who later became familiar to New York audiences
as the director of Clarion Concerts, a pioneering early-music organization.
Orff convinced Jenkins that he had been a cofounder of the White Rose
resistance movement and that he had fled for his life into the Bavarian Alps
when the "other" founder, the musicologist Kurt Huber, was exposed, arrested
and executed in 1943.

Orff and Huber were well acquainted: they had collaborated on an anthology
of Bavarian folk songs. As Huber's widow has testified, when Huber was
arrested, Orff was terrified at the prospect of guilt by association. But
his claim to that very "guilt" in retrospect has been exploded by the
historian Michael H. Kater in his recent book "Composers of the Nazi Era."

Not every recent commentator has been as scrupulous as Mr. Kater. Alberto
Fassone, the author of the Orff article in the second edition of The New
Grove Dictionary (sure to become the standard source of information on the
composer for inquiring English-speaking minds), colludes with the composer's
exculpating equivocations. Orff told his screeners that "his music was not
appreciated by the Nazis and that he never got a favorable review by a Nazi
music critic." Mr. Fassone elaborates: "The fact that `Carmina Burana' had
been torn to shreds by Herbert Gerigk, the influential critic of the
Völkischer Beobachter, who referred to the `incomprehensibility of the
language' colored by a `jazzy atmosphere,' caused many of Germany's opera
intendants to fear staging the work after its premiere." Case dismissed?

Not so fast. Gerigk's paper was the main Nazi Party organ, to be sure, and
the critic was a protégé of Alfred Rosenberg, the Nazi ideologist. But
another reviewer, Horst Büttner, a protégé of Joseph Goebbels, waxed
ecstatic after the 1937 premiere about "the radiant, strength-filled
life-joy" Orff's settings of bawdy medieval ballads expressed through their
"folklike structure." And that opinion won out. By 1940, even the Völkischer
Beobachter was on board, hailing "Carmina Burana" as "the kind of clear,
stormy and yet always disciplined music that our time requires."

Phrases like "strength-filled life-joy," and the emphasis on stormy
discipline, do begin to smack of Nazi slogans. Through them we can leave the
composer's person behind and go back to the music, which is all that matters
now. To saddle the music with the composer's personal shortcomings would
merely be to practice another kind of guilt by association; and in any case,
Orff is dead. His works are what live and continue to affect our lives. Even
if we admit that "Carmina Burana" was the original "Springtime for Hitler,"
with its theme of vernal lust and its tunes redolent (according to a German
acquaintance of mine) of the songs sung in the 30's by Nazi youth clubs,
can't we take Hitler away now and just leave innocent springtime or, at
least, innocent music?

Sorry, no. The innocence of music is for many an article of faith, if often
an expedient one. The German conductor Christian Thielemann, recently
embroiled in discussions over whether he really called Daniel Barenboim's
dispute with the Staatsoper in Berlin "the Jewish mess," sought refuge in
the notion. "What has C sharp minor got to do with fascism?" he asked a
British interviewer. But that is like asking what the letter F has to do
with fascism. It all depends on what letters follow it that is, on the
context. Sing the "Horst Wessel Lied" in C sharp minor all right, that tune
is in the major, but just suppose and the key can have a lot to do with
fascism.

But there are more sophisticated ways of asking the question. The American
musicologist Kim Kowalke notes that Orff first employed his primitivistic
idiom, the one now associated with his "Nazi" pieces, in songs predating the
Nazi regime, to words by the eventual Hitler refugee Franz Werfel and by the
eventual Communist poet laureate Bertolt Brecht. Armed with this
information, Mr. Kowalke seeks to challenge a position that many, this
writer included, have taken: "If the musical idiom of `Carmina Burana'
derives from settings of Brecht's poetry, can it inherently inscribe, as
Brecht would argue in general and Richard Taruskin would assert in
particular, a `celebration of Nazi youth culture'?"

YET surely Mr. Kowalke knows that his italicized word loads the dice. There
is no inherent difference, perhaps, between music that accompanies leftist
propaganda and music that accompanies rightist propaganda. But one may argue
nevertheless that Orff's music is well nay, obviously suited to accompany
propaganda. What makes its suitability so obvious, one may argue further,
are indeed its inherent qualities. And such music, one may conclude, can
have undesirable effects on listeners, similar to those of propaganda.

The first point that Orff's music is "obviously" suited to accompany
propaganda is corroborated by its ubiquitous employment for such purposes
even today. Not all propaganda is political, after all; and most people who
recognize Orff's music today do so because of its exploitation in
commercials for chocolate, beer and juvenile action heroes (not to mention
Michael Jackson's "Dangerous" tour). Alex Ross has argued in The New York
Times that the co-optation of "Carmina Burana" for sales propaganda "is
proof that it contains no diabolical message, indeed that it contains no
message whatsoever." But change the word "contains" to "channels" and Orff
is back on the hook. His music can channel any diabolical message that text
or context may suggest, and no music does it better.

How does it accomplish this sinister task? That's what Orff learned from
Stravinsky, master of the pounding rhythm and the endless ostinato. Repeat
anything often enough, Dr. Goebbels said, and it becomes the truth.
Stravinsky himself has been accused of the dehumanizing effect we now
attribute to mass propaganda, most notoriously by Theodor W. Adorno in his
1948 book, "Philosophy of New Music." But Stravinsky's early music, though
admittedly "written with an ax" (as the composer put it to his fellow
Russian exile Vladimir Ussachevsky), is subtlety itself compared with the
work of his German imitator.

And yes, "imitator" is definitely the word. "Carmina Burana" abounds in
out-and-out plagiarisms from "Les Noces." The choral yawp
("niet-niet-niet-niet-niet!") at the end of "Circa mea pectora" (No. 18 of
the 25 tiny numbers that make up Orff's 40-minute score) exactly reproduces
the choral writing at the climax of Stravinsky's third tableau. Another
little choral mantra ("trillirivos-trillirivos-trillirivos") in Orff's No.
20 ("Veni, veni, venias") echoes the acclamations to the patron saints
halfway through the second tableau of Stravinsky's ballet. And these are
only the most blatant cases.

In "Catulli Carmina," Orff aped the distinctive four-piano-plus-percussion
scoring of "Les Noces," upping the percussion ante from 6 players on 16
instruments to 12 on 23. Surrounding a central episode in which the story of
Catullus's doomed love for Lesbia is danced to an accompaniment of a
cappella choruses, the piano-cum-percussion clangor accompanies torrid bust-
and crotch-groping lyrics by the composer: real "pornoph ony," to recall the
epithet The New York Sun lavished on Shostakovich's "Lady Macbeth
of the Mtsensk District" in 1935. (In the noble tradition of Krafft-Ebing,
at least half of Orff's Latin verses are left untranslated on record jackets
I've seen.)

Finally, in "Trionfo di Afrodite" Orff copied the actual scenario of "Les
Noces," a ritualized wedding ceremony, although the music now harks back to
Stravinsky's more decorous mythological period with echoes of "Oedipus Rex"
and "Perséphone," along with an unexpected fantasy in the middle on the
Shrovetide music from "Petrouchka." Even the most seemingly original music
in "Trionfo," Orff's imaginary equivalent of the lascivious Greek "chromatic
genus" (to which he sets the bride and groom's lines), turns out to be a
Stravinsky surrogate, derived from the scale of alternating half and whole
steps that Stravinsky inherited from his teacher, Rimsky-Korsakov, who got
it from Liszt.

Even if one agrees with Adorno's strictures about Stravinsky, though, one
must also allow that the degree of barbarization represented by Orff's
leering rewrite so far exceeds Stravinsky's as to amount to a difference in
kind. When "Les Noces" is actually performed as a ballet, especially in
Bronislava Nijinska's original choreography, the visible characters behave
with what a contemporary folklorist called the "profound gravity" and "cool,
inevitable intention" of ritual. They march off to the wedding bed in a kind
of robots' lockstep, symbolizing the grip of remorseless, immemorial
tradition that ensures the immortality of the race even as it diminishes
individual freedom of choice.

By contrast, the penultimate scene in "Trionfo di Afrodite," to a text by
Sappho, may be the most graphic musical description of the sex act ever put
on paper. Every sigh, moan and squeal is precisely notated, so that despite
the ostensibly recondite text in a dead language, even the dullest member of
the audience will get the titillating point. (At least Orff was an
equal-opportunity orgiast: his bride wails and whimpers as much as his
groom, whereas in "Les Noces" the bride, silent at the end, is just the
groom's "nocturnal amusement.")

STRAVINSKY'S repetitions are offset by rhythmic irregularities so that they
elude easy memorization and remain surprising even after many hearings. As a
result, the overall mood of "Les Noces" and "The Rite of Spring," his
loudest pseudo-aboriginal scores, is grim, even terrifying. Orff's rhythms
are uniformly foursquare, his melodies catchy, his moods ingratiating. His
music provides what the Australian musicologist Margaret King recently
called "an instant tape loop for the mind," something that, grasped fully
and immediately, reverberates in the head the way propaganda is supposed to
do. As Mr. Ross put it, even after half a century or more, Orff's music
remains "as adept as
ever at rousing primitive, unreflective enthusiasm."

Is that a reason to love it or to hate it? Everybody likes to indulge the
herd instinct now and then, as Thomas Mann so chillingly reminded us in
"Mario and the Magician." It is just because we like it that we ought to
resist it. Could the Nazi Holocaust have been carried off without expertly
rousing primitive, unreflective enthusiasm in millions? Was Orff's
neo-paganism unrelated to the ideology that reigned in his homeland when he
wrote his most famous scores?

In 1937, the year in which "Carmina Burana" enjoyed its smashing success,
the National Socialists were engaged in a furious propaganda battle with the
churches of Germany, countering the Christian message of compassion with
neo-pagan worship of holy hatred. And what could better support the Nazi
claim that the Germans, precisely in their Aryan neo-paganism, were the true
heirs of Greco-Roman ("Western") culture than Orff's animalistic settings of
Greek and Latin poets?

Did Orff intend precisely this? Was he a Nazi? These questions are
ultimately immaterial. They allow the deflection of any criticism of his
work into irrelevant questions of rights: Orff's right to compose his music,
our right to perform and listen to it. Without questioning either, one may
still regard his music as toxic, whether it does its animalizing work at
Nazi rallies, in school auditoriums, at rock concerts, in films, in the
soundtracks that accompany commercials or in Avery Fisher Hall.

--

Source
Orff knew Kurt Huber, but their friendship was based on common music
interests, not politics; Orff was not a member of the White Rose.

Never a National Socialist, Orff did whatever was required to work in peace,
to keep away from politics, and to get through a dirty system as cleanly as
possible (27). After reading Kater's article, it is hard to disagree with
this assessment, or to avoid thinking it apt for many of those "gray,
ambiguous persons, ready to compromise" whom Primo Levi identified both
inside and outside the Lager.

Michael H. Kater, "Carl Orff im Dritten Reich," Vierteljahrshefte für
Zeitgeschichte 43, 1 (January 1995): 1-35.Reviewed by David B.
Dennis(originally published by H-German on 25 January 1996)
Stephen Bond
2005-11-24 12:35:36 UTC
Permalink
Ian Pace wrote:
(Quoting Richard Taruskin)
Post by Ian Pace
Even if one agrees with Adorno's strictures about Stravinsky, though, one
must also allow that the degree of barbarization represented by Orff's
leering rewrite so far exceeds Stravinsky's as to amount to a difference in
kind. [...] the penultimate scene in "Trionfo di Afrodite," to a text by
Sappho, may be the most graphic musical description of the sex act ever put
on paper. Every sigh, moan and squeal is precisely notated, so that despite
the ostensibly recondite text in a dead language, even the dullest member of
the audience will get the titillating point.
I agree with the thrust of the article -- that Carmina Burana is music
to accompany propaganda, any propaganda -- but in equating "graphic
musical description of the sex act" with "barbarization" or even
"titillation", Taruskin is revealing an element of prudery. I haven't
heard "Trionfo di Afrodite" (and haven't much interest in doing so),
but one of my biggest problems with Orff's settings of the bawdy
lyrics in "Carmina Burana" is that they aren't "graphic" enough.
Orff's "Tempus est Iocundum", forexample, with its children's choir
and jeering playground tune (it's like "Blanchfleur and Helen up a
tree..."), is instead coy and sniggering. It doesn't "describe" the
sex act as much as insinuate it, and more, insinuate that it's
something naughty and forbidden. In this way it's much like the
sexual insinuation -- and titillation -- found in advertising. It's a
titillation which encourages the audience to take pleasure in feeling
guilty about something. In short, it demeans its audience.

It's worth comparing Orff's setting of "Tempus est Iocundum" with
Ensemble Unicorn's wonderfully earthy early-instruments setting
of the same text on Naxos, which seems to me a much more
honest and mature engagement with the text.

---
Stephen.
Ian Pace
2005-11-24 12:49:53 UTC
Permalink
Post by Stephen Bond
It's worth comparing Orff's setting of "Tempus est Iocundum" with
Ensemble Unicorn's wonderfully earthy early-instruments setting
of the same text on Naxos, which seems to me a much more
honest and mature engagement with the text.
I must get that recording - the only recording of the original Carmina
Burana I have is that by the Clemencic Consort, which has very few of the
texts that Orff set (though is very interesting - if this is something like
how the original Carmina Burana was sang, then it's light years away from
Orff's type of 'medievalism'). Which other recordings of the Medieval
Carmina Burana does anyone have, and what are their thoughts on them?

Ian
Michael Schaffer
2005-11-24 15:33:47 UTC
Permalink
Post by Ian Pace
Post by Stephen Bond
It's worth comparing Orff's setting of "Tempus est Iocundum" with
Ensemble Unicorn's wonderfully earthy early-instruments setting
of the same text on Naxos, which seems to me a much more
honest and mature engagement with the text.
I must get that recording - the only recording of the original Carmina
Burana I have is that by the Clemencic Consort, which has very few of the
texts that Orff set (though is very interesting - if this is something like
how the original Carmina Burana was sang, then it's light years away from
Orff's type of 'medievalism'). Which other recordings of the Medieval
Carmina Burana does anyone have, and what are their thoughts on them?
Ian
There is no original version of Carmina Burana. We have no idea how
these texts were sung. There are a few texts for which some very basic
notation exists, but even in those cases, we do not know how they were
performed. All the performances of medieval music are hugely
speculative, and all they can give us is a very vague idea of how
medieval music in general could have sounded like.
There is no point in comparing these versions with Orff's setting. They
have next to nothing to do with each other. Orff doesn't even try to be
"authentic". There were no pianos in the middle ages, and no pedal
timpani or contrabassoons either. The piece as it is does is a work of
its time, and as such it obviously reflects many elements of its time,
like any work of art. And there are also references to and elements
borrowed from the music Orff was influenced by. In this case the work
of Stravinsky provided a strong inspiration for Orff, and you can hear
elements of it in his music. Wow. What a scandal. I have some news for
you: every piece of art contains mostly already existing elements
chosen in a way that could be called a "style".
Mozart and Da Ponte didn't make up the story of Don Giovanni. They
adapted a well known story which had been set to music many times
before. In modern terms, they staged a "remake". Mozart knew some of
these versions and borrowed elements from them and arranged them in his
own way. Mozart didn't create the harmonic system he wrote in, neither
did he invent the instruments he wrote for nor was he the first one who
came up with the idea that people could actually sing texts and act out
stories. What a complete plagiarist he was.
Come on people, grow up. The sad truth is that these twisted attempts
to link Orff in some way directly to Nazi ideologies or make him a
representative of them all lead to nowhere because there isn't much if
anything in his work that is exclusively a Nazi thing.
The general problem is that it is very difficult to draw the line
exactly where fascism begins, or what is more important to many, what
separates it from other, "better" ideologies. The more you investigate
the matter the blurrier it becomes, so people need easily identifiable
elements and persons to point their finger at.
They should point their fingers at people who enlisted in the SS and
marched prisoners into gas chambers, at people who reported their
neighbors to the Gestapo, there are many things you can defintiely
point your fingers at people for, but Orff did none of them. He didn't
even write music for the regime or participated in party activities. He
was simply a composer and music teacher in Munich who was a child of
his time like we all are and shared some of its to our modern mind
quirky ideas, but he didn't indulge in or support any of the extreme
racist and fascist ideas that were also part of his time and place. He
is probably far less guilty than many, many, many other people who
lived there at that time.
The problem is, most of these people are not as well known, and there
is basically no other famous piece of music from that era that can be
proclaimed to reflect the "sound of fascism".
What it really is is just a piece which is fairly infectious and gives
a lot of people a lot of pleasure, even today, in many places. Some of
these people may be facists, some of them may not be fascists. In
either case, it has nothing to do with their relationship with this
music.
You don't have to feel guilty either because it is a fairly
conservative piece for its time and people keep telling you that in
itself is a bad thing.
Yes, you can listen to Berg and Orff and enjoy both if you want. It's
OK. Don't worry about it. It doesn't make you a fascist. Other things
do.

BTW, there is no proof for the oft-repeated story that Orff claimed to
have been a member of the "White Rose". Kater also had to correct his
statements in which he said there was. The surviving documentation of
the investigation has been carefully studied, and apparently there is
no proof for that.
But I can tell you one thing: just having been an acquaintance and even
colleague of Huber must have scared the living shit out of Orff when
the "White Rose" was discovered. It may not confirm with your Hollywood
movie based ideas about how all the Germans were Nazis, but they
actually weren't that nice to their own people and terrorized them with
stormtroopers and Gestapo. And they were extremely well organized and
had the people well under control. Which probably saved Orff because
they actually investigated who the resistance people were. In a lot of
other regimes, they would have just rounded up everyone remotely
connected to the key players and made them all disappear. Maybe Orff
even acted like a "good citizen" during that time to save his skin. Or
maybe he didn't and just tried to fly under the radar. I do not know.
Maybe he was a coward. Are we better?

BTW, Huber and Orff worked together on collecting Bavarian folk songs.
So Huber was interested in German folklore. So were the Nazis. So does
that make Huber a fascist too?
Stephen Bond
2005-11-24 19:55:39 UTC
Permalink
Post by Michael Schaffer
There is no point in comparing these versions with Orff's setting. They
have next to nothing to do with each other. Orff doesn't even try to be
"authentic".
No one is advocating comparing the "authenticity" of Orff's setting
with those of early music ensembles. However it is quite possible,
and not entirely pointless, to compare them as settings of the same
text, and as different perspectives on medievalism.
Post by Michael Schaffer
The piece as it is does is a work of
its time, and as such it obviously reflects many elements of its time,
like any work of art.
I agree. One element of its time that it reflects is the Nazi
idealisation of a false, romanticised medievalism. I wouldn't
claim that Orff was the only artist of the time whose work
glorified medievalism in this way.

[long defence of Orff snipped]

I not interested in "pointing fingers" at Orff, or his personal
behaviour during the Nazi era. But I do agree with the
point made earlier: that there is something about Orff's Carmina
Burana, as a work of art, that made it appeal to the Nazis, and
makes it continue to appeal to those who would manipulate
public opinion today.

---
Stephen.
Michael Schaffer
2005-11-24 20:26:26 UTC
Permalink
Post by Stephen Bond
Post by Michael Schaffer
There is no point in comparing these versions with Orff's setting. They
have next to nothing to do with each other. Orff doesn't even try to be
"authentic".
No one is advocating comparing the "authenticity" of Orff's setting
with those of early music ensembles. However it is quite possible,
and not entirely pointless, to compare them as settings of the same
text, and as different perspectives on medievalism.
True, but I have to say when I relistened to their version of "Tempus
est" it is kind of obvious how hard they try to avoid - not entirely
successful - associations with Orff's setting, which is, while it is
not at all "authentic", musically very clever and fity the text very
nicely.
Post by Stephen Bond
Post by Michael Schaffer
The piece as it is does is a work of
its time, and as such it obviously reflects many elements of its time,
like any work of art.
I agree. One element of its time that it reflects is the Nazi
idealisation of a false, romanticised medievalism. I wouldn't
claim that Orff was the only artist of the time whose work
glorified medievalism in this way.
That is not a Nazi idea. Idealization and romanticization (is that an
actual word?) of past periods of history in art has been around since
before people started recording history and stories.
Nor is glorified medievalism as such a typical element of Nazilore.
They retold and glorified the entire history of the "Nordic" people to
justify their claims of superiority. That is not something they
pioneered either.
Nor does Orff's "medievalism" match the prevailing romantic idea they
had. Their romantic idea of the middle ages was more the lardy,
technicolor late-romantic version from Wagner to Neuschwanstein. Their
idea was the swan as seen in Lohengrin, not the roasted swan screaming
at the top of his voice or the prostitute calling out to passing young
men.
Idealized versions of past historic periods can be found in abundance
in all forms of art. That doesn't make them all automatically fascist.
Orff wasn't even preoccupied with the medieval period. He was
interested in several periods, including the Renaissance and the
classic period (which in itself is a kind of Renaissance interest).
In fact, while Orff's setting of the carmina burana does not even
remotely qualify as a serious attempt at reconstruction of historic
music, Orff in general was among the first to research and perform
"early" music as his performing versions of renaissance works such as
Monteverdi's show. That interest in early music not just as an object
of academic interest but the desire to perform the music is just one
step before the period performance practice movement of which the
reconstructions or interpretations are part too. There is a certain
element of escapism in all that in addition to the historic interest,
but that doesn't make it fascist either.
Post by Stephen Bond
[long defence of Orff snipped]
I not interested in "pointing fingers" at Orff, or his personal
behaviour during the Nazi era. But I do agree with the
point made earlier: that there is something about Orff's Carmina
Burana, as a work of art, that made it appeal to the Nazis, and
makes it continue to appeal to those who would manipulate
public opinion today.
---
Stephen.
Are you referring to the frequent use of "O Fortuna" in movies and
advertisements?
Wayne Reimer
2005-11-25 04:03:06 UTC
Permalink
<...much interesting and well thought out stuff deleted...>
Thanks for taking the time to make a lot of good points - Taruskin
ought to read them. BTW, the idea that Carmina Burana copies heavily
from Les Noces is ridiculous. The piece that actually does sound like
a close cousin of Les Noces is Catulli Carmina, not Carmina Burana.
Maybe it's a sort of guilt by association, since they are both in the
same trilogy.

wr
Michael Schaffer
2005-11-25 12:02:50 UTC
Permalink
Post by Wayne Reimer
<...much interesting and well thought out stuff deleted...>
Thanks for taking the time to make a lot of good points - Taruskin
ought to read them. BTW, the idea that Carmina Burana copies heavily
from Les Noces is ridiculous. The piece that actually does sound like
a close cousin of Les Noces is Catulli Carmina, not Carmina Burana.
Maybe it's a sort of guilt by association, since they are both in the
same trilogy.
wr
True, and that shows that while Orff was influenced by Stravinsky, he
didn't just copy from him because Catulli and Burana are actually quite
different pieces.
As we have seen, there is no reason to see Orff as somebody closely
associated with NS ideology or composing the soundtrack for it. Orff
wanted to write music that would entertain and elevate people. While
the Nazis preached stuff like "Kraft durch Freude" (power through
happiness), that doesn't mean that people who think that it's actually
true that you get a lot of energy from things that make you happy are
all Nazis. Because everybody in their right mind knows that that's the
way we are. By that definiton, every single poster on this ng is a Nazi
because we all apparently enjoy listening to music. Why? Because it
makes us unhappy and bores us to death? Probably not.
I guess a lot of people hear the frenzied repetitive opening ("O
Fortuna") only and think that that is what the whole piece is like. O
Fortuna represents the wheel of fate which spinds around and around and
nobody can do anything about it. So it does have something to do with
manipulation in the widest sense, but it's about how the power of fate
governs our lives mercilessly. Verdi also wrote about that. And guess
what, his music is insistent and a little repetitive too. Maybe that is
what a lot of people see as "la forza del destino". O Fortuna does not
have anything to do with whipping up the people into a musical frenzy
so that they march off and deport somebody. That is just absolutely
ridiculous.
Actually the whole discussion brought a lot of new insights for me. I
had always known that some people thought of Orff in that way, but
never really understood why and never saw a connection between him and
NS ideology.
I guess it is like I said earlier: people just need easily identifiable
symbols and representatives and Orff since he happened to live in that
time and the music is also carrying the stigma of being popular is a
good target. BTW, I think the popularity of the piece is for some
people with elitist attitudes a worse sin than if it had been Nazi
party music.
Ian Pace
2005-11-27 11:29:00 UTC
Permalink
Post by Michael Schaffer
Post by Wayne Reimer
<...much interesting and well thought out stuff deleted...>
Thanks for taking the time to make a lot of good points - Taruskin
ought to read them. BTW, the idea that Carmina Burana copies heavily
from Les Noces is ridiculous. The piece that actually does sound like
a close cousin of Les Noces is Catulli Carmina, not Carmina Burana.
Maybe it's a sort of guilt by association, since they are both in the
same trilogy.
wr
True, and that shows that while Orff was influenced by Stravinsky, he
didn't just copy from him because Catulli and Burana are actually quite
different pieces.
As we have seen, there is no reason to see Orff as somebody closely
associated with NS ideology or composing the soundtrack for it. Orff
wanted to write music that would entertain and elevate people. While
the Nazis preached stuff like "Kraft durch Freude" (power through
happiness), that doesn't mean that people who think that it's actually
true that you get a lot of energy from things that make you happy are
all Nazis.
The 'happiness' that the Nazis preached was absolutely predicated upon
others' sufferings, a necessary condition for such happiness to be made
possible.
Post by Michael Schaffer
Because everybody in their right mind knows that that's the
way we are. By that definiton, every single poster on this ng is a Nazi
because we all apparently enjoy listening to music. Why? Because it
makes us unhappy and bores us to death? Probably not.
That's ridiculous. No-one who's critical of Carmina is attacking the
expression of 'happiness' in music, just looking a little sceptically at
when this is necessarily associated with primitivism.
Post by Michael Schaffer
I guess a lot of people hear the frenzied repetitive opening ("O
Fortuna") only and think that that is what the whole piece is like. O
Fortuna represents the wheel of fate which spinds around and around and
nobody can do anything about it. So it does have something to do with
manipulation in the widest sense, but it's about how the power of fate
governs our lives mercilessly. Verdi also wrote about that. And guess
what, his music is insistent and a little repetitive too. Maybe that is
what a lot of people see as "la forza del destino".
There's much more to Verdi than that. Though I don't accept a fatalistic
view of the world (I prefer a more Beethovenian position).
Post by Michael Schaffer
O Fortuna does not
have anything to do with whipping up the people into a musical frenzy
so that they march off and deport somebody.
As I've said elsewhere, the connection isn't concrete in that manner. But it
certainly is about whipping people up into a musical frenzy. I'm sorry, but
I can't look at those things undialectically.

Do compare that sort of spectacle with the very different perspective in the
'Dance Around the Golden Calf'.

Ian
Stephen Bond
2005-11-25 12:28:51 UTC
Permalink
Post by Michael Schaffer
Post by Stephen Bond
No one is advocating comparing the "authenticity" of Orff's setting
with those of early music ensembles. However it is quite possible,
and not entirely pointless, to compare them as settings of the same
text, and as different perspectives on medievalism.
True, but I have to say when I relistened to their version of "Tempus
est" it is kind of obvious how hard they try to avoid - not entirely
successful - associations with Orff's setting, which is, while it is
not at all "authentic", musically very clever and fity the text very
nicely.
I find I can quite forget Orff's version of "Tempus Est Iocundum"
when listening to Ensemble Unicorn's. The latter truly captures
the bawdiness of the text, with its lewd bagpipe screams,
constant moan of the hurdy-gurdy, and the general "impure" sounds
of the medieval instruments (compare Orff's children's choir and
squeaky-clean, sparse orchestration). There's something wild and
dangerous about the performance that communicates the joy and
fear of first love. Orff, to me, communicates mostly a snigger. His
setting is clever, I agree -- clever and knowing, like a schoolboy
is clever and knowing. "Clever" is generally not a word I'd use in
praise of a work of art, suggesting as it does a kind of superficial
display of intellect.

As a perspective on the medieval, the Ensemble Unicorn version
seems to me an honest attempt to imagine medievalism, to
communicate an impression of medieval attitudes, "warts and all",
without necessarily approving of or condescending to them. Orff,
on the other hand, seems to be arguing *for* his idealised
middle ages, for the "primitive energy and strength" of the
peasantry, for their "simple and direct apprehension of life". He
ignores the satirical and moralising aspect of many of the poems.
The medieval authors of Carmina Burana did not necessarily
approve of the behaviour described in, say, "In Taberna Quando
Sumus", but Orff's setting glorifies it, revels in it.
Post by Michael Schaffer
They retold and glorified the entire history of the "Nordic" people to
justify their claims of superiority. That is not something they
pioneered either.
Nor does Orff's "medievalism" match the prevailing romantic idea they
had. Their romantic idea of the middle ages was more the lardy,
technicolor late-romantic version from Wagner to Neuschwanstein. Their
idea was the swan as seen in Lohengrin, not the roasted swan screaming
at the top of his voice or the prostitute calling out to passing young
men.
No one is claiming that the Nazis pioneered the idealisation of the
middle ages. But their idealisation had a certain (and not necessarily
unique) character. They saw the middle ages as a time when people
lived life "authentically", directly realised their "being", without
the intercession of modern, bourgeois (or "Jewish") thought and
institutions. To live life authentically in this way was to submit to
the call of fate, a fate which was bound up in the greater fate of
the Volk. These are all ideas that find obvious reflection in Orff's
"Carmina Burana", whether or not Orff consciously inserted them.

Orff's "Olim Lacus Colueram" may not be a "technicolour vision"
of the middle ages, but it has a certain sadistic humour -- again,
missing the satirical/moral dimension of the poem -- which relishes
that the swan is served up on a spit. It seems to chime in with Nazi
ideals of the "law of the jungle" and social Darwinism. And I don't
find a lot of eroticism in Orff's "court of love" -- he makes sex
sound more like a ritual to perpetuate the Volk.
Post by Michael Schaffer
Idealized versions of past historic periods can be found in abundance
in all forms of art. That doesn't make them all automatically fascist.
Of course not, and no one claimed that they were. However,
idealisation of the past does tend to accompany retrograde
politics of one type or another, as with Tolkien's idealisation of
medieval England, Hollywood idealisation of 1950s America, or
the idealisation of long-dead pianists by certain "pianophiles"
on this group.
Post by Michael Schaffer
Post by Stephen Bond
I not interested in "pointing fingers" at Orff, or his personal
behaviour during the Nazi era. But I do agree with the
point made earlier: that there is something about Orff's Carmina
Burana, as a work of art, that made it appeal to the Nazis, and
makes it continue to appeal to those who would manipulate
public opinion today.
Are you referring to the frequent use of "O Fortuna" in movies and
advertisements?
Yes, and the somewhat less frequent use of "Fortune Plango Vulnera"
and others.

---
Stephen.
Michael Schaffer
2005-11-25 13:16:20 UTC
Permalink
Post by Stephen Bond
Post by Michael Schaffer
Post by Stephen Bond
No one is advocating comparing the "authenticity" of Orff's setting
with those of early music ensembles. However it is quite possible,
and not entirely pointless, to compare them as settings of the same
text, and as different perspectives on medievalism.
True, but I have to say when I relistened to their version of "Tempus
est" it is kind of obvious how hard they try to avoid - not entirely
successful - associations with Orff's setting, which is, while it is
not at all "authentic", musically very clever and fity the text very
nicely.
I find I can quite forget Orff's version of "Tempus Est Iocundum"
when listening to Ensemble Unicorn's. The latter truly captures
the bawdiness of the text, with its lewd bagpipe screams,
constant moan of the hurdy-gurdy, and the general "impure" sounds
of the medieval instruments (compare Orff's children's choir and
squeaky-clean, sparse orchestration). There's something wild and
dangerous about the performance that communicates the joy and
fear of first love. Orff, to me, communicates mostly a snigger. His
setting is clever, I agree -- clever and knowing, like a schoolboy
is clever and knowing. "Clever" is generally not a word I'd use in
praise of a work of art, suggesting as it does a kind of superficial
display of intellect.
As a perspective on the medieval, the Ensemble Unicorn version
seems to me an honest attempt to imagine medievalism, to
communicate an impression of medieval attitudes, "warts and all",
without necessarily approving of or condescending to them. Orff,
on the other hand, seems to be arguing *for* his idealised
middle ages, for the "primitive energy and strength" of the
peasantry, for their "simple and direct apprehension of life". He
ignores the satirical and moralising aspect of many of the poems.
The medieval authors of Carmina Burana did not necessarily
approve of the behaviour described in, say, "In Taberna Quando
Sumus", but Orff's setting glorifies it, revels in it.
Post by Michael Schaffer
They retold and glorified the entire history of the "Nordic" people to
justify their claims of superiority. That is not something they
pioneered either.
Nor does Orff's "medievalism" match the prevailing romantic idea they
had. Their romantic idea of the middle ages was more the lardy,
technicolor late-romantic version from Wagner to Neuschwanstein. Their
idea was the swan as seen in Lohengrin, not the roasted swan screaming
at the top of his voice or the prostitute calling out to passing young
men.
No one is claiming that the Nazis pioneered the idealisation of the
middle ages. But their idealisation had a certain (and not necessarily
unique) character. They saw the middle ages as a time when people
lived life "authentically", directly realised their "being", without
the intercession of modern, bourgeois (or "Jewish") thought and
institutions.
No, they didn't. They saw history as an eternal struggle and wanted to
achieve what they saw as the pure state that history was heading to,
not coming from. You seem to get your ideas about NS ideology
exclusively from movies.
Post by Stephen Bond
To live life authentically in this way was to submit to
the call of fate, a fate which was bound up in the greater fate of
the Volk. These are all ideas that find obvious reflection in Orff's
"Carmina Burana", whether or not Orff consciously inserted them.
Orff's "Olim Lacus Colueram" may not be a "technicolour vision"
of the middle ages, but it has a certain sadistic humour -- again,
missing the satirical/moral dimension of the poem -- which relishes
that the swan is served up on a spit. It seems to chime in with Nazi
ideals of the "law of the jungle" and social Darwinism. And I don't
find a lot of eroticism in Orff's "court of love" -- he makes sex
sound more like a ritual to perpetuate the Volk.
So far it has been somewhat interesting to discuss this with you, but
now I really think you have some serious issues and need help. There is
something deeply perverse and sickening in the way you twist everything
so that it fits your ideas. I don't mean that as an insult, as an
aggressive way of disagreeing with you. It literally made me sick for a
few moments when I read that.
That is all assumption and projection of your ideas of what national
socialism was about on Orff's music. There is no basis for these
assumptions except your clicheed ideas and the certainty that since
Orff lived in Germany at that time, he must have been a Nazi, in itself
a deeply racist way of thinking. You seem to have some very strange
fixations. But that is not Orff's fault.
"which relishes that the swan is served up on a spit. It seems to chime
in with Nazi
ideals of the "law of the jungle" and social Darwinism." "he makes sex
sound more like a ritual to perpetuate the Volk"
- I have read a lot of idiotic stuff in newsgroups, but I think this
is the most idiotic stuff I have read here so far.
Post by Stephen Bond
Post by Michael Schaffer
Idealized versions of past historic periods can be found in abundance
in all forms of art. That doesn't make them all automatically fascist.
Of course not, and no one claimed that they were. However,
idealisation of the past does tend to accompany retrograde
politics of one type or another, as with Tolkien's idealisation of
medieval England, Hollywood idealisation of 1950s America, or
the idealisation of long-dead pianists by certain "pianophiles"
on this group.
Post by Michael Schaffer
Post by Stephen Bond
I not interested in "pointing fingers" at Orff, or his personal
behaviour during the Nazi era. But I do agree with the
point made earlier: that there is something about Orff's Carmina
Burana, as a work of art, that made it appeal to the Nazis, and
makes it continue to appeal to those who would manipulate
public opinion today.
Are you referring to the frequent use of "O Fortuna" in movies and
advertisements?
Yes, and the somewhat less frequent use of "Fortune Plango Vulnera"
and others.
---
Stephen.
Your ideas of "public manipulation" are very hollow and superficial.
That is not how it works and why those few bars of music are used so
often - every other action and fantasy film soundtrack imitates the
style too - in films and advertisements. It's simply because the music
is catching and exciting. Nothing more.
You know what the most effective commercial that we have seen on TV in
the last months was? "In 15 minutes you can save a lot of money by
switching to Geico". Everybody knows that line. Why? Because they made
commercials follwoing your rules of mass manipulation? No. I can't
remember a single product that O Fortuna was used for because it is so
generic. It has no manipulative qualities at all, like the many other
commercials with exciting music and beautiful people in expensive cars
wearing designer sunglasses.
The reason everybody knows the Geico line is because the spots ARE
FUNNY, not because the hammer the message into people. Most really
effective advertisements ARE FUNNY, not obsessively repetitive.
Stephen Bond
2005-11-25 14:03:43 UTC
Permalink
Post by Michael Schaffer
Post by Stephen Bond
No one is claiming that the Nazis pioneered the idealisation of the
middle ages. But their idealisation had a certain (and not necessarily
unique) character. They saw the middle ages as a time when people
lived life "authentically", directly realised their "being", without
the intercession of modern, bourgeois (or "Jewish") thought and
institutions.
No, they didn't. They saw history as an eternal struggle and wanted to
achieve what they saw as the pure state that history was heading to,
not coming from.
That does not contradict anything I said.
Post by Michael Schaffer
So far it has been somewhat interesting to discuss this with you, but
now I really think you have some serious issues and need help. There is
something deeply perverse and sickening in the way you twist everything
so that it fits your ideas. I don't mean that as an insult,
Oh good.

as an
Post by Michael Schaffer
aggressive way of disagreeing with you. It literally made me sick for a
few moments when I read that.
That is all assumption and projection of your ideas of what national
socialism was about on Orff's music. There is no basis for these
assumptions except your clicheed ideas and the certainty that since
Orff lived in Germany at that time, he must have been a Nazi,
Nowhere have I expressed such a certainty. Again, I'm not pointing
fingers at Orff the person, but merely observing that there are
elements about his MUSIC that chime in with Nazi ideals.
Post by Michael Schaffer
"which relishes that the swan is served up on a spit. It seems to chime
in with Nazi
ideals of the "law of the jungle" and social Darwinism." "he makes sex
sound more like a ritual to perpetuate the Volk"
- I have read a lot of idiotic stuff in newsgroups, but I think this
is the most idiotic stuff I have read here so far.
I'm sorry -- that's just my opinion on what the music sounds like.
Maybe Orff's "court of love" does it for you, but it doesn't
do it for me.
Post by Michael Schaffer
Your ideas of "public manipulation" are very hollow and superficial.
That is not how it works and why those few bars of music are used so
often - every other action and fantasy film soundtrack imitates the
style too - in films and advertisements. It's simply because the music
is catching and exciting. Nothing more.
And "the music is catchy and exciting" is a somehow less superficial
analysis?
Post by Michael Schaffer
You know what the most effective commercial that we have seen on TV in
the last months was? "In 15 minutes you can save a lot of money by
switching to Geico". Everybody knows that line. Why? Because they made
commercials follwoing your rules of mass manipulation? No. I can't
remember a single product that O Fortuna was used for because it is so
generic. It has no manipulative qualities at all, like the many other
commercials with exciting music and beautiful people in expensive cars
wearing designer sunglasses.
If you seriously believe such commercials are not manipulative,
then I'd rather not interfere with your enjoyment.

---
Stephen.
Ian Pace
2005-11-25 14:18:09 UTC
Permalink
Post by Stephen Bond
analysis?
Post by Michael Schaffer
You know what the most effective commercial that we have seen on TV in
the last months was? "In 15 minutes you can save a lot of money by
switching to Geico". Everybody knows that line. Why? Because they made
commercials follwoing your rules of mass manipulation? No. I can't
remember a single product that O Fortuna was used for because it is so
generic. It has no manipulative qualities at all, like the many other
commercials with exciting music and beautiful people in expensive cars
wearing designer sunglasses.
If you seriously believe such commercials are not manipulative,
then I'd rather not interfere with your enjoyment.
If anyone doubts that commercials are manipulative, they should talk (off
the record) to some of the people who make them. And manipulation of many
forms exists all around us, not just in explicit advertisements - one should
talk to those involved in the multitude of aspects of a supermarket that are
designed to manipulate consumers into spending more and buying things they
don't need, it's quite horrifying.

Ian
Michael Schaffer
2005-11-25 15:23:12 UTC
Permalink
Post by Stephen Bond
Post by Michael Schaffer
Post by Stephen Bond
No one is claiming that the Nazis pioneered the idealisation of the
middle ages. But their idealisation had a certain (and not necessarily
unique) character. They saw the middle ages as a time when people
lived life "authentically", directly realised their "being", without
the intercession of modern, bourgeois (or "Jewish") thought and
institutions.
No, they didn't. They saw history as an eternal struggle and wanted to
achieve what they saw as the pure state that history was heading to,
not coming from.
That does not contradict anything I said.
Post by Michael Schaffer
So far it has been somewhat interesting to discuss this with you, but
now I really think you have some serious issues and need help. There is
something deeply perverse and sickening in the way you twist everything
so that it fits your ideas. I don't mean that as an insult,
Oh good.
as an
Post by Michael Schaffer
aggressive way of disagreeing with you. It literally made me sick for a
few moments when I read that.
That is all assumption and projection of your ideas of what national
socialism was about on Orff's music. There is no basis for these
assumptions except your clicheed ideas and the certainty that since
Orff lived in Germany at that time, he must have been a Nazi,
Nowhere have I expressed such a certainty. Again, I'm not pointing
fingers at Orff the person, but merely observing that there are
elements about his MUSIC that chime in with Nazi ideals.
Post by Michael Schaffer
"which relishes that the swan is served up on a spit. It seems to chime
in with Nazi
ideals of the "law of the jungle" and social Darwinism." "he makes sex
sound more like a ritual to perpetuate the Volk"
- I have read a lot of idiotic stuff in newsgroups, but I think this
is the most idiotic stuff I have read here so far.
I'm sorry -- that's just my opinion on what the music sounds like.
Maybe Orff's "court of love" does it for you, but it doesn't
do it for me.
Post by Michael Schaffer
Your ideas of "public manipulation" are very hollow and superficial.
That is not how it works and why those few bars of music are used so
often - every other action and fantasy film soundtrack imitates the
style too - in films and advertisements. It's simply because the music
is catching and exciting. Nothing more.
And "the music is catchy and exciting" is a somehow less superficial
analysis?
Post by Michael Schaffer
You know what the most effective commercial that we have seen on TV in
the last months was? "In 15 minutes you can save a lot of money by
switching to Geico". Everybody knows that line. Why? Because they made
commercials follwoing your rules of mass manipulation? No. I can't
remember a single product that O Fortuna was used for because it is so
generic. It has no manipulative qualities at all, like the many other
commercials with exciting music and beautiful people in expensive cars
wearing designer sunglasses.
If you seriously believe such commercials are not manipulative,
then I'd rather not interfere with your enjoyment.
---
Stephen.
Still - the roasted swan as a symbol for social Darwinism - controlled
love ritual for the controlled reproduction of the people - it will
take me a while to get over this.
Stephen Bond
2005-11-25 18:34:24 UTC
Permalink
Post by Michael Schaffer
Still - the roasted swan as a symbol for social Darwinism - controlled
love ritual for the controlled reproduction of the people -
A misinterpretation of my words, of course, but not your first.
Post by Michael Schaffer
it will
take me a while to get over this.
I'm sure time will heal all.

---
Stephen.
Michael Schaffer
2005-11-25 15:30:16 UTC
Permalink
Post by Stephen Bond
Post by Michael Schaffer
Post by Stephen Bond
No one is claiming that the Nazis pioneered the idealisation of the
middle ages. But their idealisation had a certain (and not necessarily
unique) character. They saw the middle ages as a time when people
lived life "authentically", directly realised their "being", without
the intercession of modern, bourgeois (or "Jewish") thought and
institutions.
No, they didn't. They saw history as an eternal struggle and wanted to
achieve what they saw as the pure state that history was heading to,
not coming from.
That does not contradict anything I said.
Post by Michael Schaffer
So far it has been somewhat interesting to discuss this with you, but
now I really think you have some serious issues and need help. There is
something deeply perverse and sickening in the way you twist everything
so that it fits your ideas. I don't mean that as an insult,
Oh good.
as an
Post by Michael Schaffer
aggressive way of disagreeing with you. It literally made me sick for a
few moments when I read that.
That is all assumption and projection of your ideas of what national
socialism was about on Orff's music. There is no basis for these
assumptions except your clicheed ideas and the certainty that since
Orff lived in Germany at that time, he must have been a Nazi,
Nowhere have I expressed such a certainty. Again, I'm not pointing
fingers at Orff the person, but merely observing that there are
elements about his MUSIC that chime in with Nazi ideals.
Post by Michael Schaffer
"which relishes that the swan is served up on a spit. It seems to chime
in with Nazi
ideals of the "law of the jungle" and social Darwinism." "he makes sex
sound more like a ritual to perpetuate the Volk"
- I have read a lot of idiotic stuff in newsgroups, but I think this
is the most idiotic stuff I have read here so far.
I'm sorry -- that's just my opinion on what the music sounds like.
Maybe Orff's "court of love" does it for you, but it doesn't
do it for me.
Post by Michael Schaffer
Your ideas of "public manipulation" are very hollow and superficial.
That is not how it works and why those few bars of music are used so
often - every other action and fantasy film soundtrack imitates the
style too - in films and advertisements. It's simply because the music
is catching and exciting. Nothing more.
And "the music is catchy and exciting" is a somehow less superficial
analysis?
Post by Michael Schaffer
You know what the most effective commercial that we have seen on TV in
the last months was? "In 15 minutes you can save a lot of money by
switching to Geico". Everybody knows that line. Why? Because they made
commercials follwoing your rules of mass manipulation? No. I can't
remember a single product that O Fortuna was used for because it is so
generic. It has no manipulative qualities at all, like the many other
commercials with exciting music and beautiful people in expensive cars
wearing designer sunglasses.
If you seriously believe such commercials are not manipulative,
then I'd rather not interfere with your enjoyment.
---
Stephen.
Still - the roasted swan as a symbol for social Darwinism - controlled
love ritual for the controlled reproduction of the people - it will
take me a while to get over this.
Ian Pace
2005-11-25 14:14:49 UTC
Permalink
Post by Michael Schaffer
Post by Stephen Bond
No one is claiming that the Nazis pioneered the idealisation of the
middle ages. But their idealisation had a certain (and not necessarily
unique) character. They saw the middle ages as a time when people
lived life "authentically", directly realised their "being", without
the intercession of modern, bourgeois (or "Jewish") thought and
institutions.
No, they didn't. They saw history as an eternal struggle and wanted to
achieve what they saw as the pure state that history was heading to,
not coming from. You seem to get your ideas about NS ideology
exclusively from movies.
Hitler certainly looked backwards to days of supposed past glories, in part
to the Middle Ages, but more so to the Greek and Roman Empires (he had some
notions of the Greeks being Nordics who had migrated South to produce 'Greek
Nordic civilisation', and elsewhere in Egypt, Persia, etc.). In his 1920
speech 'Why Are We Anti-Semites?', he said:

'So the race we label Aryan was the inspirer of all the later great
cultures... We know that Egypt was raised to its cultural height by Aryan
immigrants, similarly Persia and Greece. The immigrants were blond,
blue-eyed Aryans, and we know that apart from these states no cultured
states ever existed on earth....

...art flowers above all where a great political movement gives it the
opportunity. We know that the arts in Greece reached their pinncle after the
young state triumphed over the Persian army....Rome first became a city of
culture after the Punic wars....We know that art, as reflected, for example,
in the beauty of our German cities, was always dependent on the political
development of these cities....'

(quoted in Frederic Spotts - 'Hitler and the Power of Aesthetics'
(Woodstock, NY, 2002), pp. 16-17)

Also in the same book:

In 1941, after the Wehrmacht had devastated Yugoslavia in its march through
the Balkans and crossed the Greek border, Hitler commented to Goebbels how
much he admired the bravery of the Greek army. 'Perhaps there is still some
of the old Hellenic in them.' The Fuhrer, Goebbels further recorded,
'forbids any bombing of Athens.....Rome and Athens are Meccas for him. He
deeply regrets having to fight the Greeks. Had the British not intervened,
he would never have hastened to help the Italians.' A few weeks later, he
returned to find Hitler 'sad that he considered it at all necessary to fight
in Greece. The Greeks certainly did not deserve it. He intends to treat them
as humanely as he possibly can. We watch a newsreel of our entry into
Athens. The Fuhrer can take absolutely no pleasure in it, so deeply saddened
is he by Greece's fate.'

(ibid, p. 21)

Much of Hitler's ideology was vehemently opposed to what he saw as the
Judeo-Bolshevik corruption of modern life, and restoring a purer Volkisch
way of life, based upon racial purity, the end of 'degenerate' (entartete)
modernist elements in culture, etc. This is definitely looking backwards
(even if to a past that has never really existed).

That said, you are right to point out that the Nazis also looked forward
(they looked forward to some pure future that was based upon an idealised
past, though). The following quote, from a speech Hitler gave on September
6th, 1938, is relevant here:

'THE proof of the endowment of a true artist is always to be found in the
fact that his work of art expresses the general will of a period. Perhaps
that is most clearly shown in architecture.... The religious mystical world
of the Christian Middle Ages, turning inwards upon itself, found forms of
expression which were possible only for that world - for that world alone
could they be of service. A Gothic stadium is as unthinkable as a Romanesque
railway station or a Byzantine market hall. The way in which the artist of
the Middle Ages, of the beginnings of the modern world, found the artistic
solution for the buildings which he was commissioned to create is in the
highest degree striking and admirable. That way, however, is no evidence
that the conception of the content of life held by the folk of his day was
in itself either absolutely right or absolutely wrong; it is evidence only
that works of art have rightly mirrored the inner mind of a past age. It is
therefore quite comprehensible that insofar as the attempt is made to carry
on the life of that past age, those who search for solutions of artistic
problems can still seek and find there fruitful suggestions. '

But that seems at the heart of Carmina Burana, it tries to 'carry on the
life of that past age' (as that 'past age' was perceived by Orff) using a
modern musical language.

Ian
Ian Pace
2005-11-25 14:31:35 UTC
Permalink
Post by Michael Schaffer
Your ideas of "public manipulation" are very hollow and superficial.
That is not how it works and why those few bars of music are used so
often - every other action and fantasy film soundtrack imitates the
style too - in films and advertisements. It's simply because the music
is catching and exciting. Nothing more.
Don't you think action and fantasy films can be manipulative as well? I find
huge amounts of manipulation in many Hollywood films.
Post by Michael Schaffer
You know what the most effective commercial that we have seen on TV in
the last months was? "In 15 minutes you can save a lot of money by
switching to Geico". Everybody knows that line. Why? Because they made
commercials follwoing your rules of mass manipulation? No.
I haven't seen that advert, not being in the US, but I'd be very surprised
if a range of manipulative techniques played a part in the commercial's
effectiveness. These operate on many levels, visual, sonic, temporal,
associative, etc. Companies spend millions of dollars on these things in the
full knowledge of their effectiveness.
Post by Michael Schaffer
I can't
remember a single product that O Fortuna was used for because it is so
generic. It has no manipulative qualities at all, like the many other
commercials with exciting music and beautiful people in expensive cars
wearing designer sunglasses.
You really don't think those things are manipulative? Aren't they saying a
message along the lines of 'you can be like this stylish and beautiful
person if you buy that car (or those sunglasses, depending what product is
being advertised)?
Post by Michael Schaffer
The reason everybody knows the Geico line is because the spots ARE
FUNNY, not because the hammer the message into people. Most really
effective advertisements ARE FUNNY, not obsessively repetitive.
Humour also can be (and is, frequently) used as a technique of manipulation.
Even 'anti-advertising' techniques can be used to advertise products - the
commercial world finds ways of appropriating everything it encounters. Naomi
Klein's 'No Logo' has some very interesting stuff on this phenomenon.

Ian
Ian Pace
2005-11-25 15:59:34 UTC
Permalink
Post by Ian Pace
I haven't seen that advert, not being in the US, but I'd be very surprised
if a range of manipulative techniques played a part in the commercial's
effectiveness.
Correction: that should have been 'I'd be very surprised if a range of
manipulative techniques DIDN'T play a part in the commercial's
effectiveness.'
Michael Schaffer
2005-11-26 21:23:09 UTC
Permalink
Post by Ian Pace
Post by Michael Schaffer
Your ideas of "public manipulation" are very hollow and superficial.
That is not how it works and why those few bars of music are used so
often - every other action and fantasy film soundtrack imitates the
style too - in films and advertisements. It's simply because the music
is catching and exciting. Nothing more.
Don't you think action and fantasy films can be manipulative as well? I find
huge amounts of manipulation in many Hollywood films.
Post by Michael Schaffer
You know what the most effective commercial that we have seen on TV in
the last months was? "In 15 minutes you can save a lot of money by
switching to Geico". Everybody knows that line. Why? Because they made
commercials follwoing your rules of mass manipulation? No.
I haven't seen that advert, not being in the US, but I'd be very surprised
if a range of manipulative techniques played a part in the commercial's
effectiveness. These operate on many levels, visual, sonic, temporal,
associative, etc. Companies spend millions of dollars on these things in the
full knowledge of their effectiveness.
Post by Michael Schaffer
I can't
remember a single product that O Fortuna was used for because it is so
generic. It has no manipulative qualities at all, like the many other
commercials with exciting music and beautiful people in expensive cars
wearing designer sunglasses.
You really don't think those things are manipulative? Aren't they saying a
message along the lines of 'you can be like this stylish and beautiful
person if you buy that car (or those sunglasses, depending what product is
being advertised)?
Post by Michael Schaffer
The reason everybody knows the Geico line is because the spots ARE
FUNNY, not because the hammer the message into people. Most really
effective advertisements ARE FUNNY, not obsessively repetitive.
Humour also can be (and is, frequently) used as a technique of manipulation.
Even 'anti-advertising' techniques can be used to advertise products - the
commercial world finds ways of appropriating everything it encounters. Naomi
Klein's 'No Logo' has some very interesting stuff on this phenomenon.
Ian
That's my whole point. Almost everything is manipulative, and
manipulation can have many different forms. But people often say "Oh,
Carmina burana is manipulative because it's exciting and repetitive" as
if that was a deep insight and dark secret uncovered. Basically EVERY
form of music, loud, soft, fast, slow, sad, exciting, uplifting,
depressing is a manipulation. That is why we listen to music. Because
we want it to transport us to these states.
Saying that CB is a fascist form of manipulation because it hammers
something into our heads by being loud and repetitive is pure bullshit.
It is a form of manipulation like all music, but that doesn't make it a
form of Nazi propaganda.
Raymond Hall
2005-11-27 02:09:25 UTC
Permalink
Post by Michael Schaffer
Post by Ian Pace
Post by Michael Schaffer
Your ideas of "public manipulation" are very hollow and superficial.
That is not how it works and why those few bars of music are used so
often - every other action and fantasy film soundtrack imitates the
style too - in films and advertisements. It's simply because the music
is catching and exciting. Nothing more.
Don't you think action and fantasy films can be manipulative as well? I find
huge amounts of manipulation in many Hollywood films.
Post by Michael Schaffer
You know what the most effective commercial that we have seen on TV in
the last months was? "In 15 minutes you can save a lot of money by
switching to Geico". Everybody knows that line. Why? Because they made
commercials follwoing your rules of mass manipulation? No.
I haven't seen that advert, not being in the US, but I'd be very surprised
if a range of manipulative techniques played a part in the commercial's
effectiveness. These operate on many levels, visual, sonic, temporal,
associative, etc. Companies spend millions of dollars on these things in the
full knowledge of their effectiveness.
Post by Michael Schaffer
I can't
remember a single product that O Fortuna was used for because it is so
generic. It has no manipulative qualities at all, like the many other
commercials with exciting music and beautiful people in expensive cars
wearing designer sunglasses.
You really don't think those things are manipulative? Aren't they saying a
message along the lines of 'you can be like this stylish and beautiful
person if you buy that car (or those sunglasses, depending what product is
being advertised)?
Post by Michael Schaffer
The reason everybody knows the Geico line is because the spots ARE
FUNNY, not because the hammer the message into people. Most really
effective advertisements ARE FUNNY, not obsessively repetitive.
Humour also can be (and is, frequently) used as a technique of manipulation.
Even 'anti-advertising' techniques can be used to advertise products - the
commercial world finds ways of appropriating everything it encounters. Naomi
Klein's 'No Logo' has some very interesting stuff on this phenomenon.
Ian
That's my whole point. Almost everything is manipulative, and
manipulation can have many different forms. But people often say "Oh,
Carmina burana is manipulative because it's exciting and repetitive" as
if that was a deep insight and dark secret uncovered. Basically EVERY
form of music, loud, soft, fast, slow, sad, exciting, uplifting,
depressing is a manipulation. That is why we listen to music. Because
we want it to transport us to these states.
Saying that CB is a fascist form of manipulation because it hammers
something into our heads by being loud and repetitive is pure bullshit.
It is a form of manipulation like all music, but that doesn't make it a
form of Nazi propaganda.
I agree completely with the above. But it still doesn't stop me from
loathing the piece, in spite of the fact that I initially loved it. But it
wore thin very very quickly for me. It is, put simply, a tacky, banal
treatment of some presumably medieval texts. In short, it is no longer a
work I possess, or feel the need to possess.

But to begin to equate the actual work, with Orff's politics, or whether his
wife cut up his toast into little soldiers for his boiled egg for breakfast,
is total hogwash in my book. I find his music banal to these ears. In short,
crap.

Actually, I love minimalist works when done skillfully, and the better
minimalists in general, and don't equate or associate any of them with
fascism, or anything else politically, except maybe in the case of Adam's
operas, where his choice of subject and texts, make his world views somewhat
more explicit.

I don't like Wagner either, and aside from the fact that he was a nasty
little piece of work, his operas, to these ears, as music, and storyline, is
pure comicbook hogwash, despite the fact that there are some here that
divine some deep universal message from it all.

I am so glad that I don't.

Ray H
Taree
Michael Schaffer
2005-11-27 09:52:08 UTC
Permalink
Post by Raymond Hall
Post by Michael Schaffer
Post by Ian Pace
Post by Michael Schaffer
Your ideas of "public manipulation" are very hollow and superficial.
That is not how it works and why those few bars of music are used so
often - every other action and fantasy film soundtrack imitates the
style too - in films and advertisements. It's simply because the music
is catching and exciting. Nothing more.
Don't you think action and fantasy films can be manipulative as well? I find
huge amounts of manipulation in many Hollywood films.
Post by Michael Schaffer
You know what the most effective commercial that we have seen on TV in
the last months was? "In 15 minutes you can save a lot of money by
switching to Geico". Everybody knows that line. Why? Because they made
commercials follwoing your rules of mass manipulation? No.
I haven't seen that advert, not being in the US, but I'd be very surprised
if a range of manipulative techniques played a part in the commercial's
effectiveness. These operate on many levels, visual, sonic, temporal,
associative, etc. Companies spend millions of dollars on these things in the
full knowledge of their effectiveness.
Post by Michael Schaffer
I can't
remember a single product that O Fortuna was used for because it is so
generic. It has no manipulative qualities at all, like the many other
commercials with exciting music and beautiful people in expensive cars
wearing designer sunglasses.
You really don't think those things are manipulative? Aren't they saying a
message along the lines of 'you can be like this stylish and beautiful
person if you buy that car (or those sunglasses, depending what product is
being advertised)?
Post by Michael Schaffer
The reason everybody knows the Geico line is because the spots ARE
FUNNY, not because the hammer the message into people. Most really
effective advertisements ARE FUNNY, not obsessively repetitive.
Humour also can be (and is, frequently) used as a technique of manipulation.
Even 'anti-advertising' techniques can be used to advertise products - the
commercial world finds ways of appropriating everything it encounters. Naomi
Klein's 'No Logo' has some very interesting stuff on this phenomenon.
Ian
That's my whole point. Almost everything is manipulative, and
manipulation can have many different forms. But people often say "Oh,
Carmina burana is manipulative because it's exciting and repetitive" as
if that was a deep insight and dark secret uncovered. Basically EVERY
form of music, loud, soft, fast, slow, sad, exciting, uplifting,
depressing is a manipulation. That is why we listen to music. Because
we want it to transport us to these states.
Saying that CB is a fascist form of manipulation because it hammers
something into our heads by being loud and repetitive is pure bullshit.
It is a form of manipulation like all music, but that doesn't make it a
form of Nazi propaganda.
I agree completely with the above. But it still doesn't stop me from
loathing the piece, in spite of the fact that I initially loved it. But it
wore thin very very quickly for me. It is, put simply, a tacky, banal
treatment of some presumably medieval texts. In short, it is no longer a
work I possess, or feel the need to possess.
But to begin to equate the actual work, with Orff's politics, or whether his
wife cut up his toast into little soldiers for his boiled egg for breakfast,
is total hogwash in my book. I find his music banal to these ears. In short,
crap.
Actually, I love minimalist works when done skillfully, and the better
minimalists in general, and don't equate or associate any of them with
fascism, or anything else politically, except maybe in the case of Adam's
operas, where his choice of subject and texts, make his world views somewhat
more explicit.
I don't like Wagner either, and aside from the fact that he was a nasty
little piece of work, his operas, to these ears, as music, and storyline, is
pure comicbook hogwash, despite the fact that there are some here that
divine some deep universal message from it all.
I am so glad that I don't.
Ray H
Taree
I am actually not a big fan of Carmina burana either. I think the music
is very cleverly written and contains more fine detail than most people
realize and it is quite entertaining if you are into that sort of
thing. But I don't listen to it very often either. In fact, when I
played it in my orchestra a few months ago I hadn't heard it for many
years. What I wrote was generally not meant to prove that it is a great
masterpiece but that it is nonsense to say it is clearly the reflection
of fascist thinking. The more I think about it, the more idiotic it
appears to me, actually.
I don't take the Wagner operas very seriously either, but the music is
a lot of fun in the way old adventure movies can be. I find the texts
very painful though. Especially if German is your native language, it
can really hurt a lot on some places...
Actually, a flexible mind can divine any kind of message, universal,
enlightened, fascist, whatever, from anything. You could say a glass of
water is a symbol of fascism because it imprisons the water and
interrupts its natural flow blablablabla.
Ian Pace
2005-11-27 11:16:25 UTC
Permalink
Post by Michael Schaffer
I am actually not a big fan of Carmina burana either. I think the music
is very cleverly written and contains more fine detail than most people
realize and it is quite entertaining if you are into that sort of
thing. But I don't listen to it very often either. In fact, when I
played it in my orchestra a few months ago I hadn't heard it for many
years. What I wrote was generally not meant to prove that it is a great
masterpiece but that it is nonsense to say it is clearly the reflection
of fascist thinking. The more I think about it, the more idiotic it
appears to me, actually.
I actually find it compelling to listen to, but also highly manipulative at
the same time. Its directness of impact and elemental power do have a
fascination, but then I remember Sontag's essay on 'Fascinating Fascism' -
http://www.history.ucsb.edu/faculty/marcuse/classes/33d/33dTexts/SontagFascinFascism75.htm
Post by Michael Schaffer
I don't take the Wagner operas very seriously either, but the music is
a lot of fun in the way old adventure movies can be. I find the texts
very painful though. Especially if German is your native language, it
can really hurt a lot on some places...
Actually, a flexible mind can divine any kind of message, universal,
enlightened, fascist, whatever, from anything.
Do you really take such an ultra-relativist position? That any message can
be found in anything? Don't you think that 'texts' (in the broadest sense of
the word, to include any durable art-works) imply some interpretations more
strongly than others? Certainly most such 'texts' allow for a plurality of
interpretation (and that is a great strength, I feel), but that's not the
same thing as being interpretable in any way whatsoever (if that were the
case, the texts themselves would become redundant). This is the paradox that
certain schools of high structuralism encountered (see, for example,
Jakobson and Levi-Strauss's essay on Baudelaire's 'Le Chat'), leading to a
type of post-modern meaningless pluralism, that happily more acute literary
thinkers have moved away from.
Post by Michael Schaffer
You could say a glass of
water is a symbol of fascism because it imprisons the water and
interrupts its natural flow blablablabla.
That's not comparable at all (and fascism isn't necessarily 'against
nature', though to say fascist's conception of nature is idealised would be
a massive understatement). Fascism did depend upon the mass 'spectacle',
though (and the Situationists wrote at length about the wider use of the
spectacle in advanced capitalist society). Carmina Burana works in a similar
manner, and according to similar ideological principles, that is why the
link is made.

Ian
Michael Schaffer
2005-11-27 11:46:15 UTC
Permalink
Post by Ian Pace
Post by Michael Schaffer
I am actually not a big fan of Carmina burana either. I think the music
is very cleverly written and contains more fine detail than most people
realize and it is quite entertaining if you are into that sort of
thing. But I don't listen to it very often either. In fact, when I
played it in my orchestra a few months ago I hadn't heard it for many
years. What I wrote was generally not meant to prove that it is a great
masterpiece but that it is nonsense to say it is clearly the reflection
of fascist thinking. The more I think about it, the more idiotic it
appears to me, actually.
I actually find it compelling to listen to, but also highly manipulative at
the same time. Its directness of impact and elemental power do have a
fascination, but then I remember Sontag's essay on 'Fascinating Fascism' -
http://www.history.ucsb.edu/faculty/marcuse/classes/33d/33dTexts/SontagFascinFascism75.htm
Post by Michael Schaffer
I don't take the Wagner operas very seriously either, but the music is
a lot of fun in the way old adventure movies can be. I find the texts
very painful though. Especially if German is your native language, it
can really hurt a lot on some places...
Actually, a flexible mind can divine any kind of message, universal,
enlightened, fascist, whatever, from anything.
Do you really take such an ultra-relativist position? That any message can
be found in anything? Don't you think that 'texts' (in the broadest sense of
the word, to include any durable art-works) imply some interpretations more
strongly than others? Certainly most such 'texts' allow for a plurality of
interpretation (and that is a great strength, I feel), but that's not the
same thing as being interpretable in any way whatsoever (if that were the
case, the texts themselves would become redundant). This is the paradox that
certain schools of high structuralism encountered (see, for example,
Jakobson and Levi-Strauss's essay on Baudelaire's 'Le Chat'), leading to a
type of post-modern meaningless pluralism, that happily more acute literary
thinkers have moved away from.
That has nothing at all to do with what I said. I didn't even remotely
imply anything of the things you said. I am not interested in
"structuralism", "pluralism", any other straightjacket or ideology of
the mind. The urge to subjugate everything to such models is something
which I find very sick and not to a small degree fascist, actually.

But I said that word twisting and "interpretations" can go very far.
There is nothing linking it directly to fascism in Carmina burana, and
nothing linking it indirectly to fascism either. The urge to find that
connection simply because Orff lived in Germany at that time and wasn't
exactly a resistance fighter is just IDIOTIC and also a little TWISTED.
You can also find traces of fascism in, say, Glen Miller's music and
background if you want. And he is probably much closer to true fascism
in his appropriated but ethnically cleansed black music. But all that
doesn't lead anywhere.
I understand, you need somebody to be the Nazi system representative in
music, somebody who would be easy to identify, like the sawastikas you
see on everything in Hollywood films to signal something or somebody
belongs to the Nazis, and it would be so nice if Carl Orff could be
used for that because he is so well known, but unfortunately, there is
no basis for such an accusation.
Post by Ian Pace
Post by Michael Schaffer
You could say a glass of
water is a symbol of fascism because it imprisons the water and
interrupts its natural flow blablablabla.
That's not comparable at all (and fascism isn't necessarily 'against
nature', though to say fascist's conception of nature is idealised would be
a massive understatement). Fascism did depend upon the mass 'spectacle',
though (and the Situationists wrote at length about the wider use of the
spectacle in advanced capitalist society). Carmina Burana works in a similar
manner, and according to similar ideological principles, that is why the
link is made.
BUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUULLLLLLLLLLLLLSHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIITTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT

Any public performance intended for a larger crowd is a mass spectacle.
Post by Ian Pace
Ian
Ian Pace
2005-11-27 10:49:54 UTC
Permalink
Post by Michael Schaffer
Post by Ian Pace
Post by Michael Schaffer
Your ideas of "public manipulation" are very hollow and superficial.
That is not how it works and why those few bars of music are used so
often - every other action and fantasy film soundtrack imitates the
style too - in films and advertisements. It's simply because the music
is catching and exciting. Nothing more.
Don't you think action and fantasy films can be manipulative as well? I find
huge amounts of manipulation in many Hollywood films.
Post by Michael Schaffer
You know what the most effective commercial that we have seen on TV in
the last months was? "In 15 minutes you can save a lot of money by
switching to Geico". Everybody knows that line. Why? Because they made
commercials follwoing your rules of mass manipulation? No.
I haven't seen that advert, not being in the US, but I'd be very surprised
if a range of manipulative techniques played a part in the commercial's
effectiveness. These operate on many levels, visual, sonic, temporal,
associative, etc. Companies spend millions of dollars on these things in the
full knowledge of their effectiveness.
Post by Michael Schaffer
I can't
remember a single product that O Fortuna was used for because it is so
generic. It has no manipulative qualities at all, like the many other
commercials with exciting music and beautiful people in expensive cars
wearing designer sunglasses.
You really don't think those things are manipulative? Aren't they saying a
message along the lines of 'you can be like this stylish and beautiful
person if you buy that car (or those sunglasses, depending what product is
being advertised)?
Post by Michael Schaffer
The reason everybody knows the Geico line is because the spots ARE
FUNNY, not because the hammer the message into people. Most really
effective advertisements ARE FUNNY, not obsessively repetitive.
Humour also can be (and is, frequently) used as a technique of manipulation.
Even 'anti-advertising' techniques can be used to advertise products - the
commercial world finds ways of appropriating everything it encounters. Naomi
Klein's 'No Logo' has some very interesting stuff on this phenomenon.
Ian
That's my whole point. Almost everything is manipulative, and
manipulation can have many different forms. But people often say "Oh,
Carmina burana is manipulative because it's exciting and repetitive" as
if that was a deep insight and dark secret uncovered. Basically EVERY
form of music, loud, soft, fast, slow, sad, exciting, uplifting,
depressing is a manipulation.
Totally disagree. In my book, manipulation is something cynical, calculated
and anti-subjective, against which I'd hold out some unfashionable ideals
such as sincerity, honesty and integrity. There is a world of difference (in
both composition and performance) between the presentation of the artist's
subjective engagement with the medium in which they are working (and all its
associated possibilities in terms of expressive tropes, emotion, the history
of the art form, the conditions of its own creation and propagation, etc.)
for the audience to engage with actively, and the impersonal type of work
designed to induce reactions in an audience, almost against their will. The
latter is manipulation to me; I recognise its power and appeal and find it
hard to write off such work entirely, though, as I have intimated elsewhere
in this thread.

However, the term 'manipulation' is used frequently in British parlance
about music in a manner I find too broad. Essentially ANY presentation of an
'emotive' experience in music is often decried as being manipulative,
regardless of the position of the creating subject. Taruskin talks about
these things in his discussion of Norrington's recording of Beethoven 9, in
the essay 'Resisting the Ninth' (printed in 'Text and Act'), though I think
the type of opposition he sets up is equally problematic (neither the
'geometric' and 'vitalist' approaches to performance he delineates need
require the subject in any non-superficial way). But what he does identify
is certainly a factor in a lot of British music-making - the elimination of
any type of 'emotive' dimension so as not to be seen as manipulative. This
sort of perspective is much favoured by the English-speaking snobbish
aesthete. And the converse exists in equal measure as well: contrived and
calculated means by which to woo an audience, in a way that is indeed
manipulative (so as to produce entertainment rather than art). At a dreadful
performance of Handel's 'Xerses' that I was at in London earlier this week,
paradoxically BOTH of these things existed simultaneously through the
approaches to the music and the theatre. The playing and singing were very
flat, disengaged, extremely limited in dynamic range, void of any warmth or
other such empathetic qualities, while the style of acting was so obviously
calculated in every gesture, body language betraying so obviously that most
of the singers never actually felt any of the emotions they were supposed to
be portraying. All designed to elicit certain responses from the audience,
including the knowing chuckles that are de rigeur at not particularly funny
things. It was both detached and manipulative at the same time, in a manner
that accords with a long history of British music-making and theatre. Little
beyond the possibilities of 'arty' manneristic aloofness and (usually
'light') entertainment are understood or appreciated in Britain, one reason
why its modern (or rather, post-modern) cultural traditions are frequently
so bereft.

The last thing I'd want to do is dismiss 'emotive' art, rather to emphasise
the radically different forms it can take. Without this distinction, there
is nothing to distinguish film and advertising, say, other than the fact
that the former doesn't obviously sell a product external to itself
(exceptions where product placement is involved are noted). Indeed a lot of
Hollywood films do aspire to the sort of impersonal manipulation of
advertising, but the better films, to me, present the subjective visions of
those involved in making them (a collective body of people, I'm not
necessarily subscribing to the 'auteur' theory), including the emotions that
are true to THEM, which one is free to emphasise with or not. It is that
sense of the presence of the subjects (in some type of real or even
'authentic' sense, as opposed to artificially contrived cults of
personality, which are anything but personal) in such a work of art that
distinguishes it from manipulation, to me.

Some would say that the theatre of Brecht is anti-'emotive' because it
rejects the conventions of 19th century melodramatic naturalism, but I would
disagree. A play like 'The Good Woman of Setzuan' doesn't attempt to induce
cathartic emotional reactions in its audience, but present the moral choices
that face the character of Shen Te, and illuminate to the audience the
effects such choices have upon the emotional and material well-being of
herself and other characters, appealing to their sense of empathy. Brecht
spoke of 'fascism's grotesque emphasizing of the emotions', against which he
contrasted 'the rational element in Marxist aesthetics' - the latter in no
sense implies antipathy to dealing with emotional matters though (indeed
Brecht deals with them in a much more sophisticated manner), rather to
manipulative exploitation of an audience's emotions in a way that is
profoundly false. Rationality and emotional empathy are by no means
necessarily at cross-purposes. I could expand on the similar qualities in
the music of Mauricio Kagel (and the implications in terms of performance)
if you like.
Post by Michael Schaffer
That is why we listen to music. Because
we want it to transport us to these states.
I don't listen to music to be 'transported', I listen to it to be
stimulated, to encounter types of experience that go beyond those I have
previously encountered. 'Transportation' implies a denial of the self, like
a type of tonic, 'stimulation' to me is an expansion of that self, which
broadens the range of pre-existing consciousness, not least by appealing to
qualities of empathy. The former is a type of escapism, the latter in a
sense the opposite, giving one a heightened perception of the world and
other individuals. Though I realise this may turn into a simple argument
about semantics.
Post by Michael Schaffer
Saying that CB is a fascist form of manipulation because it hammers
something into our heads by being loud and repetitive is pure bullshit.
It is a form of manipulation like all music, but that doesn't make it a
form of Nazi propaganda.
It does indeed hammer something into our heads by being loud and repetitive,
which is how propaganda works. Now, some (including Bernays) would argue
that propaganda isn't in itself fascistic or simply 'bad', it all depends on
the purpose for which it is being used. I disagree with this, not least
because propagandistic techniques are only usually effective when the
message being communicated is a brutally simple one. Fascism and right-wing
thought generally (and Stalinism) requires one-dimensional messages,
simplistic moral certainties, blind and passive acquiescence on the part of
its followers, etc., which can be perpetuated using propagandistic
techniques. It makes little sense to talk of Carmina Burana as 'a form of
Nazi propaganda' (it's nothing like that concrete in its 'meaning'), but one
can speak of its primal, atavistic message and the way it pummels the
listener into submission, flattening any active or critical consciousness
they might have through its sheer relentlessness. Those aspects do indeed
resonate with the workings of fascist propaganda, in a way that is
disturbing.

Apologies if the above is all a bit contorted, it's sometimes easier to
identify these qualities than to articulate them in words, I find.

Ian
Richard Schultz
2005-11-27 15:55:23 UTC
Permalink
In article <mbgif.1739$***@newsfe7-win.ntli.net>, Ian Pace <***@ianpace.com> wrote:

: Totally disagree. In my book, manipulation is something cynical, calculated
: and anti-subjective, against which I'd hold out some unfashionable ideals
: such as sincerity, honesty and integrity.

I wonder how he knows that Orff was not sincere when he wrote Carmina Burana.

: . . . I disagree with this, not least
: because propagandistic techniques are only usually effective when the
: message being communicated is a brutally simple one. Fascism and right-wing
: thought generally (and Stalinism) requires one-dimensional messages,
: simplistic moral certainties, blind and passive acquiescence on the part of
: its followers, etc., which can be perpetuated using propagandistic
: techniques.

Pardon my amusement at your objection to propagandistic techniques only
when someone else other than you is using them.

: Apologies if the above is all a bit contorted, it's sometimes easier to
: identify these qualities than to articulate them in words, I find.

Kind of like pornography, n'est-ce pas?

-----
Richard Schultz ***@mail.biu.ac.il
Department of Chemistry, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel
Opinions expressed are mine alone, and not those of Bar-Ilan University
-----
"It is terrible to die of thirst in the ocean. Do you have to salt your
truth so heavily that it does not even quench thirst any more?"
Richard Schultz
2005-11-27 06:17:39 UTC
Permalink
In article <bfFhf.3907$***@newsfe6-gui.ntli.net>, Ian Pace <***@ianpace.com> wrote:

: Don't you think action and fantasy films can be manipulative as well? I find
: huge amounts of manipulation in many Hollywood films.

Don't you think that Shakespeare is manipulative -- even when he is not
deliberately distorting history to promote a specific (fascist, in fact)
political agenda?

-----
Richard Schultz ***@mail.biu.ac.il
Department of Chemistry, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel
Opinions expressed are mine alone, and not those of Bar-Ilan University
-----
"You go on playing Bach your way, and I'll go on playing him *his* way."
-- Wanda Landowska
Ian Pace
2005-11-27 11:21:46 UTC
Permalink
Post by Michael Schaffer
Post by Stephen Bond
I agree. One element of its time that it reflects is the Nazi
idealisation of a false, romanticised medievalism. I wouldn't
claim that Orff was the only artist of the time whose work
glorified medievalism in this way.
That is not a Nazi idea. Idealization and romanticization (is that an
actual word?) of past periods of history in art has been around since
before people started recording history and stories.
Nor is glorified medievalism as such a typical element of Nazilore.
They retold and glorified the entire history of the "Nordic" people to
justify their claims of superiority. That is not something they
pioneered either.
Indeed, fascism didn't come out of nowhere, and does have roots in earlier
history. Idealisation and romanticisation of past eras has indeed been
around for a very long time - when this becomes translated into a political
programme, though, it takes on a very sinister form. The Nazis (or the Khmer
Rouge, say) are amongst the most extreme exponents of such a programme -
using violent means to eradicate the 'degenerate' elements of a contemporary
society to move 'forward' to some golden future based upon an idealised
past. And we know where that leads.
Post by Michael Schaffer
Nor does Orff's "medievalism" match the prevailing romantic idea they
had. Their romantic idea of the middle ages was more the lardy,
technicolor late-romantic version from Wagner to Neuschwanstein. Their
idea was the swan as seen in Lohengrin, not the roasted swan screaming
at the top of his voice or the prostitute calling out to passing young
men.
Idealized versions of past historic periods can be found in abundance
in all forms of art. That doesn't make them all automatically fascist.
As I said above, it's a matter of degree.
Post by Michael Schaffer
Orff wasn't even preoccupied with the medieval period. He was
interested in several periods, including the Renaissance and the
classic period (which in itself is a kind of Renaissance interest).
In fact, while Orff's setting of the carmina burana does not even
remotely qualify as a serious attempt at reconstruction of historic
music, Orff in general was among the first to research and perform
"early" music as his performing versions of renaissance works such as
Monteverdi's show. That interest in early music not just as an object
of academic interest but the desire to perform the music is just one
step before the period performance practice movement of which the
reconstructions or interpretations are part too. There is a certain
element of escapism in all that in addition to the historic interest,
but that doesn't make it fascist either.
Escapism isn't fascist per se, but fascism does indeed make extensive use of
escapism.

Ian
Ian Pace
2005-11-25 13:24:20 UTC
Permalink
Post by Michael Schaffer
Post by Ian Pace
Post by Stephen Bond
It's worth comparing Orff's setting of "Tempus est Iocundum" with
Ensemble Unicorn's wonderfully earthy early-instruments setting
of the same text on Naxos, which seems to me a much more
honest and mature engagement with the text.
I must get that recording - the only recording of the original Carmina
Burana I have is that by the Clemencic Consort, which has very few of the
texts that Orff set (though is very interesting - if this is something like
how the original Carmina Burana was sang, then it's light years away from
Orff's type of 'medievalism'). Which other recordings of the Medieval
Carmina Burana does anyone have, and what are their thoughts on them?
Ian
There is no original version of Carmina Burana. We have no idea how
these texts were sung. There are a few texts for which some very basic
notation exists, but even in those cases, we do not know how they were
performed. All the performances of medieval music are hugely
speculative, and all they can give us is a very vague idea of how
medieval music in general could have sounded like.
I'm fully aware of that (Daniel Leech-Wilkinson's recent book 'The Modern
Invention of Medieval Music' deals with these sorts of subjects, as have
numerous other writers on medieval performance practice). However, it isn't
true to say we have 'no idea how these texts were sung': whilst surviving
documentation on Germanic secular medieval music is scarce compared to that
on the French troubadours and trouveres, say, still scholars and performers
have done an immense amount of research into finding out as much as they can
about performance practice of the time, in both general and specific terms.
Some of this research has undoubtedly been applied to the various
performances and recordings of the medieval Carmina Burana (I'll call it
that to distinguish it from Orff). The text itself supplies a certain amount
of detail, which is filled in with other knowledge: basically some of the
poems in the original collection are given with melodies, and the fact that
they are found in many other contemporary documents of the time suggests
that many of them may have been sung. Clemencic notes the various influences
on the melodies, from Gregorian chant, popular art, Trouveres, Troubadours
and Minnesingers, and no doubt brings some wider knowledge of performance
practice in these various types of music to bear upon his recordings (which
were made in 1975 - since then there has been much more research into
medieval performance and I would imagine subsequent performances/recordings
are influenced by this), as well as making use of differing styles of
pronunciation (Arabic influence, historical pronunciations of Latin by
speakers of Italian, Spanish, French, etc.) to reflect what he sees as the
'international character of the songs'
Post by Michael Schaffer
There is no point in comparing these versions with Orff's setting. They
have next to nothing to do with each other. Orff doesn't even try to be
"authentic". There were no pianos in the middle ages, and no pedal
timpani or contrabassoons either. The piece as it is does is a work of
its time, and as such it obviously reflects many elements of its time,
like any work of art.
Both 'Carminas' constitute a view of medievalism; in Orff's case about the
perceived spirit rather than the letter. Of course, many can plausibly argue
that the renditions of Clemencic et al are a reflections of the time that
they were made, as well.

But you are absolutely right to point out that Orff's piece is a work of its
time, indeed a time when one could find aspects of neo-primitivism and
brutalism in certain strands of early modernism. These things aren't totally
distinct from fascist cultural values, I believe: fascism wasn't and isn't
simply a political movement, it also constitutes a culture and set of
ideologies. And those can be found more widely than simply in signed-up
supporters of fascist organisations. Like Stephen Bond in another post, I'm
not saying that Orff was a Nazi or necessarily had connections with the
party - that isn't the issue at stake here. This is about the work rather
than the man, and what it means in a wider cultural context.
Post by Michael Schaffer
And there are also references to and elements
borrowed from the music Orff was influenced by. In this case the work
of Stravinsky provided a strong inspiration for Orff, and you can hear
elements of it in his music. Wow. What a scandal. I have some news for
you: every piece of art contains mostly already existing elements
chosen in a way that could be called a "style".
In many different ways. Much of Carmina constitutes a reductive and
simplified version of Stravinsky, aiming for maximum directness, simplicity
of message, and lack of ambiguity, in a way that aims (I believe) to take
hold of the listener whether they like it or not. That is very much how
propaganda works in getting its message across.
Post by Michael Schaffer
Mozart and Da Ponte didn't make up the story of Don Giovanni. They
adapted a well known story which had been set to music many times
before. In modern terms, they staged a "remake". Mozart knew some of
these versions and borrowed elements from them and arranged them in his
own way. Mozart didn't create the harmonic system he wrote in, neither
did he invent the instruments he wrote for nor was he the first one who
came up with the idea that people could actually sing texts and act out
stories. What a complete plagiarist he was.
Mozart and Da Ponte did of course build upon previous musical and textual
work to aim for new and different levels of refinement and sophistication.
That is rather the opposite of Orff's 'lowest common denominator' approach.
Post by Michael Schaffer
Come on people, grow up. The sad truth is that these twisted attempts
to link Orff in some way directly to Nazi ideologies or make him a
representative of them all lead to nowhere because there isn't much if
anything in his work that is exclusively a Nazi thing.
As I said above, it's not about Orff the man, but about the music. And I
don't think Orff is alone in this respect (one might look similarly at early
Stravinsky, Russolo, Respighi, some of Prokofiev's Stalinist works, as well
as literary work of Pound, Eliot, Lewis, Woolf, Celine, possibly even
Hemingway, and others, philosophy of Heidegger, visual work of Marinetti,
etc., etc.), just that the work in question represents one of the more
extreme examples of a wider tendency in some early-20th century culture that
is not unconnected with political movements of the time.
Post by Michael Schaffer
The general problem is that it is very difficult to draw the line
exactly where fascism begins, or what is more important to many, what
separates it from other, "better" ideologies. The more you investigate
the matter the blurrier it becomes, so people need easily identifiable
elements and persons to point their finger at.
Sometimes it does indeed become difficult, as elements of fascist culture
and politics didn't disappear in 1945.
Post by Michael Schaffer
They should point their fingers at people who enlisted in the SS and
marched prisoners into gas chambers, at people who reported their
neighbors to the Gestapo, there are many things you can defintiely
point your fingers at people for, but Orff did none of them.
A great many fingers have been pointed at such types (by many more people
than would criticise Carmina Burana), as you know. Once again, though, it's
not about him as an individual.
Post by Michael Schaffer
He didn't
even write music for the regime or participated in party activities. He
was simply a composer and music teacher in Munich who was a child of
his time like we all are and shared some of its to our modern mind
quirky ideas, but he didn't indulge in or support any of the extreme
racist and fascist ideas that were also part of his time and place. He
is probably far less guilty than many, many, many other people who
lived there at that time.
None of which I would disagree with.
Post by Michael Schaffer
The problem is, most of these people are not as well known, and there
is basically no other famous piece of music from that era that can be
proclaimed to reflect the "sound of fascism".
One might instead have picked on the music of Richard Strauss, as Taruskin
points out, but the work itself doesn't exhibit such qualities so obviously.
Post by Michael Schaffer
What it really is is just a piece which is fairly infectious and gives
a lot of people a lot of pleasure, even today, in many places. Some of
these people may be facists, some of them may not be fascists.
Some of the people inspired to a frenzy at Nuremburg rallies may not have
been particularly fascistically-minded beforehand either.

This said, I realise and accept the power of certain 'elemental' art, that
which bypasses subjective judgement and the individual in favour of a
certain mass experience by manipulative means. You can find that in
contemporary minimalist work, in raves, or through the experience of taking
ecstasy tablets, joining in a herd of supporters at a football match,
indulging in primal sexual practices, or whatever. It would be too easy to
simply decry the undeniable craving many people have for such
de-individualising experiences, and perhaps a fallacy to assume that a
desire on the part of an individual to indulge in such activities is a
direct reflection of the rest of that person's character (it may be the
flip-side of it, a moment of respite from the pressures and responsibilities
of the rest of existence). In this sense I think Adorno (who would I think
have said similar things to what I'm saying about Carmina Burana - I don't
know of a direct reference to Orff in his work, but these arguments are
mirrored in his critique of Stravinsky and of mass culture) was too narrow
in his outlook. As such, I'm not looking to censure Carmina Burana - I can
find it infectious as well, if somewhat transparent in its means and
techniques. But I do think the ways in which the music operates in a manner
similar to blatant propaganda (which, as commented on elsewhere, is a major
factor in its lending itself to appropriation in advertising, mass rock
concerts, football stadiums and the like) should be engaged with.
Post by Michael Schaffer
In
either case, it has nothing to do with their relationship with this
music.
When anti-subjective music (which I believe Carmina is) clearly has a
greater power over a wide range of people than that which requires a more
active subjective reaction (such as that of Schoenberg or Berg, say, or even
quite a bit of mid-period and late Stravinsky), it raises wider questions
about what role is privileged for culture, which has everything to do with
the individuals' relationship with the cultural products in question. In my
opinion, these questions are absolutely central to the dilemma that exists
at the heart of Schoenberg's Moses und Aron (between the forces of rational,
abstract thought as represented by Moses and the need for icons to worship
as provided by Aron in the form of the Golden Calf - Carmina Burana operates
like the Golden Calf of early 20th century music) or the type of mob
hysteria, whipped up so easily, that is presented in Britten's Peter Grimes.
Post by Michael Schaffer
You don't have to feel guilty either because it is a fairly
conservative piece for its time and people keep telling you that in
itself is a bad thing.
But is it? I would suggest that Schoenberg is more 'conservative' (in the
best sense of the word) in many ways. But being conservative (in the sense
of believing in tradition and wanting to continue pursuing its development)
can be more 'progressive' than refusing the complexities of recent past and
present in favour of the idealised presentation of mythical past worlds
(which of course also occurs in Wagner, and using similarly manipulative and
didactic means, though the result is somewhat different).
Post by Michael Schaffer
Yes, you can listen to Berg and Orff and enjoy both if you want. It's
OK. Don't worry about it. It doesn't make you a fascist. Other things
do.
It's silly to say that liking a piece of music makes one a fascist. However,
there are wider social questions to be asked when the most successful
cultural products are those which appeal most directly to the 'herd
mentality', or the 'authoritarian personality' as Adorno and others
described such a thing.
Post by Michael Schaffer
BTW, there is no proof for the oft-repeated story that Orff claimed to
have been a member of the "White Rose". Kater also had to correct his
statements in which he said there was. The surviving documentation of
the investigation has been carefully studied, and apparently there is
no proof for that.
But I can tell you one thing: just having been an acquaintance and even
colleague of Huber must have scared the living shit out of Orff when
the "White Rose" was discovered. It may not confirm with your Hollywood
movie based ideas about how all the Germans were Nazis, but they
actually weren't that nice to their own people and terrorized them with
stormtroopers and Gestapo.
These are certainly not my ideas by any means, as you well know. I detest
the view of Nazism as expressed by the hideously simplistic (but very
popular, for that very reason) pseudo-scholarship of Daniel Goldhagen, that
sees it just as an expression of some deep-rooted innate qualities of the
'German character' that goes all the way back to the time of Martin Luther
if not before. Fascism could have occurred (and still could occur) in many
types of societies given certain historical conditions. It's totally foolish
to overlook the experiences of the aftermath of WW1 and the Versailles
Treaty, the occupation of the Ruhr, the collapse of the German currency, and
the wider world economic slump (not to mention the hideous mistakes made by
the German communists in not allying themselves with the Social Democrats
and other parties against fascism) as playing a part in creating the
conditions under which fascism could rise. And there were indeed more than a
few Germans who attempted to resist Nazism. Many who welcomed the Nazis'
rise to power would have done so with any party who promised and delivered
better living conditions after the awful experiences of the past decade and
a half. I'm not excusing tacit support for fascism on these grounds, just
suggesting the ways in which it was (and is) possible to manipulate public
opinion. But ordinary, unassuming people with no past history of political
involvement or sadistic tendencies turned into some of the most barbaric
killers of all time (Christopher Browning's 'Ordinary Men: Reserve Battalion
101 and the Final Solution in Poland', a far far better work than Goldhagen,
deals with this horrifying phenomenon); more recent events in Yugoslavia and
Rwanda have shown how this can occur in other places as well with shocking
ease, given certain cultural, political and propagandistic circumstances.
BUT I think it's also too easy to see Nazism in Germany (and active fascism
in many other parts of Europe at the same time, either through the ascent of
fascist parties to power or in the form of active and willing compliance in
occupied countries) as simply a brief historical aberration or blip. I don't
believe that all aspects of fascism in Germany (or anywhere else) simply
began in 1933; rather they drew upon some wider social, cultural and
political tendencies (some of which still exist today, albeit in different
forms).

The power of propaganda is immense, so much so that I think one shouldn't be
too starry-eyed when its means and techniques are present in cultural forms.
I highly recommend reading Bernays' book on the subject - he did believe
propaganda needed to be accompanied by ethical concerns (demonstrated by the
fact that he lent his advocacy to anti-smoking campaigns, when the health
risks of smoking had been discovered, after earlier organising campaigns to
encourage women to smoke), but did admit that propaganda per se has no
ethical dimension, that only exists in the uses to which it is put. I'd go
further and say that the very fact of propagandistic manipulation is itself
unethical (quite unlike Bernays, who thought it was essential to the smooth
functioning of a democratic society - closer reading reveals how false his
definition of 'democracy' is, being really about the unconscious
manipulation of the many by the few). There is, as I intimated above,
inevitably a place that such 'unethical' things will find in contemporary
society; while accepting that, I still think it's vital to maintain a
critical and dialectical view of them (not least in the face of our being
bombarded by manipulative advertising in most moments of our life).
Post by Michael Schaffer
And they were extremely well organized and
had the people well under control.
Which is the way that music like Carmina Burana operates as well.
Post by Michael Schaffer
Which probably saved Orff because
they actually investigated who the resistance people were. In a lot of
other regimes, they would have just rounded up everyone remotely
connected to the key players and made them all disappear. Maybe Orff
even acted like a "good citizen" during that time to save his skin. Or
maybe he didn't and just tried to fly under the radar. I do not know.
Maybe he was a coward. Are we better?
I'm certainly not saying that we are, necessarily.
Post by Michael Schaffer
BTW, Huber and Orff worked together on collecting Bavarian folk songs.
So Huber was interested in German folklore. So were the Nazis. So does
that make Huber a fascist too?
There is a world of difference between a genuine interest in folklore (as,
for example, Bartok investigated with great insight and humility) and its
appropriation to serve rather cynical ends. With respect to the types of
de-individualising practices I was talking about above, some will locate
similar things in African tribal rituals, Far Eastern religious practices,
and the like (certainly some minimalist composers, as well as artists like
Stravinsky and Picasso, seem drawn to such things as reservoirs of
primitivism that provided an atavistic alternative to contemporary
industrial society). But frequently these constitute rather patronising
Western perspective upon such social practices, generally divorced from the
specific social purposes they play to make them become emblematic of whole
societies and peoples in all their essentials. An engagement with the
complexities of folkloristic practices is a very different thing to
presenting an idealised view of a mythical 'folk'.

Ian
Allen
2005-11-24 15:56:35 UTC
Permalink
Ian Pace wrote:

<snip>
Post by Ian Pace
Which other recordings of the Medieval
Carmina Burana does anyone have, and what are their thoughts on them?
Ian
I like Philip Pickett's discs (4, I believe--one 2-CD set and two
singles). Probably NLA. I seem to recall that I had some of Binckley's
pioneering efforts on LP.
Allen
Mark
2005-11-25 18:29:27 UTC
Permalink
Post by Ian Pace
Post by Stephen Bond
It's worth comparing Orff's setting of "Tempus est Iocundum" with
Ensemble Unicorn's wonderfully earthy early-instruments setting
of the same text on Naxos, which seems to me a much more
honest and mature engagement with the text.
I must get that recording - the only recording of the original Carmina
Burana I have is that by the Clemencic Consort, which has very few of
the texts that Orff set (though is very interesting - if this is
something like how the original Carmina Burana was sang, then it's
light years away from Orff's type of 'medievalism'). Which other
recordings of the Medieval Carmina Burana does anyone have, and what
are their thoughts on them?
I've got the 3 (or is it 4?) volume set by Pickett/New London Consort with
his usual cast of characters: Michael George, Catherine Bott, etc. I
enjoyed it when I last heard it a couple years ago, despite the "Pickett
studio" ambiance. It's packed away now, so I can't get to it at the
moment.

I should check out the Clemencic and Naxos recordings someday too. My
musical interests now lie from Beethoven back to the mid/late Renaissance;
I'm trying to get my way even further back into music history, and some of
these new recordings may help me along.
--
Mark

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