The millions dead and the countless lives ruined are enough reason to abhor the Nazis, but the suppression in the 1930s and 40s of music by certain composers adds even more to the long list of offenses. In addition, critical tastes and trends also hurt the careers of composers considered old-fashioned. So it’s heartening to hear the work of Walter Braunfels (1882-1954) being resurrected, albeit decades after the injustice and his death. You can read about Braunfels’ story plus conductor Manfred Honeck and the Pittsburgh Symphony’s role in his revival in a recent New York Times article, a PSO blog, a Post-Gazette blog, and a Tribune Review concert preview.
In this blog post, though, I’m simply directing you to three recordings in the library’s collection where you can discover his music.
- Die Vögel [The Birds]
This fantastical opera based on a Aristophanes play was enormously popular in the 1920s and finally was revived in the 90s. This release is part of the Entartete Musik series, a project on the Decca label to record and reawaken interest in music subdued by the Nazis.
- Phantastiche Erscheinungen [Fantastic Appearances of a Theme by Hector Berlioz]
This is the orchestral piece that Honeck excerpted to begin the PSO concerts of last weekend, the finale of their 2010-2011 season. Hear the whole grand thing here.
Braunfels was born half-Jewish but Catholic in faith. This sacred choral work was recorded by Manfred Honeck with a Swedish orchestra and choir. Parts of it were performed in 2009 by the PSO.
Fans of Wagner, Mahler, Strauss, Korngold, and other German or Austrian post-romantic composers are especially encouraged to check these out.