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  • “Du holde Kunst”: Lyrikvermittlung im Radio by Friederike Gösweiner
  • Joseph McVeigh
Friederike Gösweiner, “Du holde Kunst”: Lyrikvermittlung im Radio. Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann, 2012. 331 pp.

Although much has been written about radio as a medium for German-language communication and cultural dissemination, most of it originates in and focuses on radio in Germany, while few such studies consider Austria’s radio landscape since 1945 from a purely literary perspective. Friederike Gösweiner’s summary of a recent research project at the University of Innsbruck seeks to rectify this shortcoming by examining Austrian radio’s longest-running literary series Du holde Kunst from its creation in 1945 to the release of a database of the program’s content by orf in 2009, comprising some 3,433 broadcasts. Roughly the first third of the book presents a useful theoretical and methodological framework for considering possible approaches to the study of literature in radio, while the remainder of the book looks closely at the history and makeup of the popular program of poetry and music that regularly greeted generations of Austrian listeners on Sunday mornings and holidays.

Although the author attempts to provide a brief cultural history of the postwar era in which Du hold Kunst came about, there are some notable gaps. That the program was first created by rwr, or the radio station Rot-Weiss-Rot, which had a specific programming agenda of reorientation, is barely mentioned, for example, while left unexamined is the sharp competition between the American network and that of ravag, its Austrian counterpart, which resulted in both networks offering their own version of the program in 1954–55. The author does, however, draw an important cultural parallel to the program by citing the reintroduction of the Salzburger Festspiele after World War II as an example of the conservative cultural tenor of the first postwar decade. To be sure, when the program, created by Ernst Schönwiese and produced by Eligius Scheibl, was first broadcast on October 14, 1945, the prevailing cultural message in Austria was one of continuity with the past (pre-1938), which provided for many listeners a source of hope to help them transcend their everyday [End Page 143] hardships. In fact, the title of the program comes from a poem by Franz von Schober and addresses the consolation that art provides in life. In this way, the program fit very well into the cultural policies of the Austrian state, as well as of the Allied occupying forces, by reinforcing the notion that German-language culture was not entirely compromised during the Nazi period.

Because it was such a long-running show, Du holde Kunst provides a valuable insight into the shifting lyrical canon from the postwar era to the present day. Throughout most of its run, the content of the program included much lyric poetry from the literary canon of the eighteenth, nineteenth, and early twentieth centuries. The poets whose texts most frequently appeared on the program are those one might certainly expect: Goethe (appears in 594 broadcasts), Rilke (560), Mörike (379), Eichendorff (319), Hölderlin (276), and Hofmannsthal (185). However, once the Austrian State Treaty was signed with the Allies in 1955 and the occupation radio networks disappeared, the selection of authors began to expand to include younger writers of the postwar generation, such as Jeannie Ebner (1957), Ingeborg Bachmann (1958), Paul Celan (1959), Thomas Bernhard (1966), and many others. Even Bertolt Brecht breaks into the list in 1960, despite the boycott of his plays on the Viennese stage dating back to the mid-1950s. Changes of this sort were determined—within certain limits—by the tastes of the various producers of the program through the years. In the end, however, the listening audience could still broadly shape the selection of texts. For example, attempts to move the program in a more experimental direction in the 1990s by employing more contemporary music and texts by less-known authors resulted in a sharp drop in listeners and were soon abandoned in favor of more familiar fare. However, another reason favoring traditional texts over contemporary ones was the additional cost of royalty payments to living authors.

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pp. 143-145
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