Joy H. Calico examines the cultural history of postwar Europe through the lens of the performance and reception of Arnold Schoenberg's A Survivor from Warsaw—a short but powerful work, she argues, capable of irritating every exposed nerve in postwar Europe. Schoenberg, a Jewish composer whose oeuvre had been one of the Nazis’ prime exemplars of entartete (degenerate) music, immigrated to the United States and became an American citizen. Both admired and reviled as a pioneer of dodecaphony, he wrote this twelve-tone piece about the Holocaust in three languages for an American audience. This book investigates the meanings attached to the work as it circulated through Europe during the early Cold War in a kind of symbolic musical remigration, focusing on six case studies: West Germany, Austria, Norway, East Germany, Poland, and Czechoslovakia. Each case is unique, informed by individual geopolitical concerns, but this analysis also reveals common themes in anxieties about musical modernism, Holocaust memory and culpability, the coexistence of Jews and former Nazis, anti-Semitism, dislocation, and the presence of occupying forces on both sides of the Cold War divide.
Joy H. Calico is Associate Professor of Musicology and Director of the Max Kade Center for European and German Studies at Vanderbilt University and the author of Brecht at the Opera (UC Press).
"Refreshingly, [Calico's] analysis underlines the vital role played by individual conductors, performers and critics in these various performances of A Survivor."—Times Higher Education
"An exemplary exploration in cultural history which shows with great nuance and sophistication how a single seven-minute musical work can open up so many key themes for understanding postwar Europe. This is a fascinating and important book that demonstrates how postwar Europe, including its Cold War division, needs to be understood not solely through politics but through the interpretation of cultural forms."
—Dan Stone, author of Goodbye to All That? The Story of Europe since 1945
"A unique addition to the burgeoning field of Cold War music studies. In Calico's hands, a meticulously researched history of the European reception of Schoenberg's brief cantata becomes a compelling tale of high-stakes cultural politics."
—Walter Frisch, author of The Early Works of Arnold Schoenberg
"Using Schoenberg's charged Holocaust memorial as a guide, Calico traces an innovative, transnational path through postwar European cultural life, challenging, refining, and overturning well-worn assumptions along the way. This highly compelling book will appeal to a wide range of readers interested in history, music, politics, Jewish studies, and the Cold War."
—Peter Schmelz, Associate Professor of Musicology, Washington University in St. Louis