Part of the Rest Is Noise Audio Guide
Pavel Haas and Karel Ančerl, Thersienstadt, 1944.
Note: The first page number is for the hardback edition, the second number is for the paperback.
Adolf Hitler appropriated classical music for both personal and political reasons, doing immense harm to the art in the process. Here is footage of Hitler arriving at Richard Wagner's Festspielhaus in Bayreuth and being greeted warmly by Winifred Wagner, the composer's daughter-in-law (one minute in):
In the film below, Wilhelm Furtwängler conducts Beethoven's Ninth Symphony; the date is April 19, 1942, the eve of Hitler's fifty-third birthday. By that time, Hitler himself was no longer attending public performances, but, during the ovation, Goebbels approaches the stage to show his gratitude toward the man whom Hitler had long revered as his favorite conductor.
In this film, also from 1942, Furtwängler conducts the Prelude to Die Meistersinger for the benefit of factory workers on their lunch break:
If Stalin's regime displayed consistent hostility to more adventurous styles of composition, Hitler's attitude was more muddled. In 1939 Hitler went to see Werner Egk's opera Peer Gynt (see p. 319 / pp. 348-49 of The Rest is Noise) and praised it highly, despite the fact that the influence of Stravinsky and perhaps also of Kurt Weill was evident throughout the score:
Heinz Wallberg conducting the Munich Radio Orchestra, Orfeo 005 822.
Also somewhat surprising was Goebbels's enthusiasm for Carl Orff's Carmina burana (p. 320 / p. 349), whose bouncing, syncopated rhythms also took off from Stravinsky:
Donald Runnicles conducting the Atlanta Symphony and Chorus, Telarc 80575.
Compare Stravinsky's Oedipus, especially after the 0:30 mark:
Esa-Pekka Salonen conducting the Swedish Radio Symphony and Eric Ericson Chamber Choir, Sony 48057.
Hitler admired Richard Strauss up to a point, but the Nazi hierarchy was continually frustrated by Strauss's impertinent remarks and behavior. He attempted to bring himself back into favor by writing pseudo-Beethovenian triumphalist music in his opera Friedenstag (p. 326 / p. 356), which Hitler saw in Vienna in June 1939. The excerpt below is from a recording of that very performance:
Strauss conducting the Vienna State Opera Orchestra and Chorus, Koch 3-1465-2.
Far more convincing is the mythological Daphne (p. 331 / p. 361), in which Strauss almost audibly withdraws from the rancid atmosphere of Hitler's Germany:
Karl Böhm conducting the Vienna Symphony, with Hilde Gueden as Daphne; DG 445322.
Hitler is known to have prized Karl Muck's 1927 and 1928 recordings of Parsifal. Here is the passage from Act III in which Parsifal sings, "I saw them wither, those who once smiled on me" (p. 329).
Perhaps the most woeful recorded document in twentieth-century music history is contained in the 1944-45 propaganda film Thereienstadt, also known as Hitler Gives the Jews a City, which was designed to deceive international observers as to the real situation of Jews in Nazi Germany. Presently two surviving fragments of the film can be found on YouTube. The performance of Pavel Haas's Study for Strings (p. 333 / p. 363) starts at 0:25 of this excerpt; the composer is seen sitting tensely in his seat just before the music begins. A detailed description of the surviving fragments of the film can be found on the online pages of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Most of those seen in the footage had only a few months to live; Haas and many other musicians of Theresienstadt were killed at Auschwitz in October 1944. Karel Ancerl, who conducts in the film, survived to become one of the leading conductors of the postwar era. There is plentiful information about the Thersienstadt composers at the site Music During the Holocaust, maintained by World ORT.
Metamorphosen (pp. 337-38 / pp. 367-69) is Richard Strauss's memorial to the Germany that Hitler destroyed. Below is the beginning of the funeral-march movement of Beethoven's Eroica, followed by Strauss's chilling quotation of it at the end of Metamorphosen:
Furtwängler conducts Metamorphosen in 1947: