Description: Franz Schreker (1878-1934) was a Jewish-Austrian composer of great success during the first decades of the twentieth century. Schreker’s reputation diminished after 1933 when Hitler came to power and, in 1938, his compositions were labeled Entartete Musik (“degenerate music”) by the Nazis in a public display in Düsseldorf. The Third Reich and post-war Germany saw Schreker as a decadent outcast, misunderstanding his unique style that combined elements of romanticism, expressionism, impressionism, symbolism, and atonality. This study of Schreker’s Lieder will pursue two goals. First, it will analyze the Mutterlieder (before 1898), the Fünf Gesänge (1909), and the first piece from Vom ewigen Leben (1923) stylistically. Schreker composed nearly four dozen Lieder, incorporating a wide range of styles and ideas. By studying and performing these songs written at various points in his career (including early songs, songs written after he met Schoenberg, and his last songs during the height of his fame), I hope to develop a clearer understanding of how Schreker synthesized the many cultural forces and artistic movements that seem to have influenced his compositional style. Second, this study will consider the sociopolitical circumstances that fueled the disintegration of his reputation. This disintegration occurred not just during the Third Reich, but also afterwards, notably in an often discussed essay by Theodor Adorno. Only in the last thirty years have scholarly voices critical of such rejections of Schreker emerged. My ultimate goal, then, is to join this reevaluation, studying and contextualizing this repertory to develop a new understanding of an oft-neglected chapter in the history of the German Lied.
Date: May 2016
Creator: Wallace, Alicia D