Mozart and the Nazis

How the Third Reich Abused a Cultural Icon

Erik Levi

View Inside Price: $67.00


February 1, 2011
336 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
16 b/w illus.
ISBN: 9780300123067
Cloth

Despite the apparent incompatibility between Mozart’s humanitarian and cosmopolitan outlook and Nazi ideology, the Third Reich tenaciously promoted the great composer’s music to further the goals of the fascist regime. In this revelatory book, Erik Levi draws on period articles, diaries, speeches, and other archival materials to provide a new understanding of how the Nazis shamelessly manipulated Mozart for their own political advantage. The book also explores the continued Jewish veneration of the composer  during this period while also highlighting some of the disturbing legacies of Mozart reception that resulted from Nazi appropriation of his work. Augmented by rare contemporary illustrations, Mozart and the Nazis will be widely welcomed by readers with interests in music, German history, Holocaust studies, propaganda, and politics in the twentieth century.

Erik Levi is reader in music, Royal Holloway University of London, and author of Music in the Third Reich. He lives in Surrey, UK.

"Drawing on a vast and impressive range of documentary sources, Erik Levi demonstrates how the Nazis turned Mozart into a crude symbol of 20th-century German cultural superiority. Levi wisely lets the facts speak for themselves. As a result, the sensitive relationship between art and politics, never more brutally exploited than by the Nazis, is movingly revealed in this important and ground-breaking work."—Daniel Snowman, author of The Hitler Emigrés: The Cultural impact on Britain of Refugees from Nazism

"This book fills an important gap in our understanding of the ways in which composers -- Mozart in particular -- are co-opted for social, cultural and political ends. And it teaches us that reception is as significant a part of cultural history as understanding music in its own time and place."—Cliff Eisen, Professor of Music History, King's College London

“Fascinating . . . [Levi] steadfastly explores the Nazis’ cunning approaches to high culture.”—Benjamin Ivry, Newark Star-Ledger

“…Extraordinary…”—Anna Britten, Classic FM

"In this calmly documented but mesmerising book, Erik Levi deftly lays before us the titanic struggle for the ownership of Mozart’s soul that occurred in the 1930’s and 40’s…. This is a book full of fascinating details."Alex Ross, BBC Music Magazine

"A fascinating and scholarly examination of how institutionalised evil could take one of the greatest humanists who has ever lived and twist him to its own ends."—Fergus Johnston, Irish Times

"One of the year’s most important books."—Adam Lively, Sunday Times

“Erik Levi handles his material with grace and erudition, giving an intelligent account of the battle between the forces of brutality and of civilisation in the Nazi years. A handsome volume, lavishly illustrated and packed with detail, his book would make a worthy addition to any cultural historian’s bookshelf.”—Catherine Lafferty, The Tablet

“Mozart and the Nazis is as readable as it is informative: for all the scholarly weight of the content, it holds your attention as a good murder mystery does.”—Martin Anderson, International Record Review

"The story is complicated and many-faceted, yet Levi provides the detail and the context necessary for a convincing narrative. The tone, journalistic and anti-sensational throughout, could scarcely be more effective. . . . This intriguing study comprehends a range of vital topics, and seems oddly pertinent to the present day. Highly recommended."—B.J. Murray, Choice

"Mozart and the Nazis is a well-researched, detailed account of perceptions about Mozart, his music, and his legacy in the Third Reich and beyond. . . . The rich detail provided in Mozart and the Nazis gives readers a wealth of material for gaining a deeper understanding of how such an important musical figure can be mythologized and exploited to serve both universalist and exclusionary political philosophies."—Pamela Potter, H-Judaic

“Levi perfectly captures the nervous oscillations between highly emotive patriotism and more thoughtful commentary. He is cool, articulate and backed by painstaking scholarship and research.”—Rob Cowan, Gramophone