Lecture: “Arnold Schoenberg’s A Survivor from Warsaw in Czechoslovakia”

by CJS

Speaker

Joy H. Calico, Associate Professor of Musicology at Vanderbilt University

Arnold Schoenberg’s A Survivor from Warsaw in Czechoslovakia

Schoenberg left Europe in 1933 and never went back – at least not in person.  His music, which had been virtually unheard on the continent since his departure, did return after the war, however, and that musical re-presence proved to be both symbolic and problematic.  The most freighted of those musical remigrations was his cantata A Survivor from Warsaw, a twelve-tone work he wrote in 1947 in commemoration of the Holocaust.  The piece was first heard in the Czech lands in the 1960s, and its manifestation there is quite distinctive: there was a demonstrated preference for casting the role of the narrator, who is supposed to be a Holocaust survivor, with an actual Jewish Holocaust survivor, most frequently Terezín survivor Karel Berman.  This talk explores Holocaust memory in the ČSSR through the lens of the performance and reception history of Schoenberg’s A Survivor from Warsaw.

Event Details

Wednesday, October 3
4:00 p.m.
Union South (1308 W. Dayton St.)

Co-sponsored by the School of Music and the Department of Slavic Languages

Summary

Arnold Schoenberg left Europe in 1933 and never went back – at least not in person.  His music, which had been virtually unheard on the continent since his departure, did return after the war, however, and that musical re-presence proved to be both symbolic and problematic.  The most freighted of those musical remigrations was his cantata A Survivor from Warsaw, a twelve-tone work he wrote in 1947 in commemoration of the Holocaust.  The piece was first heard in the Czech lands in the 1960s, and its manifestation there is quite distinctive: there was a demonstrated preference for casting the role of the narrator, who is supposed to be a Holocaust survivor, with an actual Jewish Holocaust survivor, most frequently Terezín survivor Karel Berman.  This talk explores Holocaust memory in the ČSSR through the lens of the performance and reception history of Schoenberg’s A Survivor from Warsaw.

About the Speaker

Joy H. Calico is Associate Professor of Musicology at Vanderbilt University, and will become director of the Max Kade Center for European and German Studies there in January 2013.  She is the author of Brecht at the Opera (California, 2008) as well as numerous other publications on German opera and on Cold-War cultural politics.  Her current book project uses the European performance and reception history of Schoenberg’s A Survivor from Warsaw from 1948 to 1968 as the point of departure for an intellectual history of that period.  Her research has been supported by the ACLS, the American Academy in Berlin, the Berlin Program, the DAAD, the Howard Foundation, and the NEH.