- Eine Institution zwischen Repräsentation und Macht: Die Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst im Kulturleben des Nationalsozialismus ed. by Juri Giannini, Maximilian Haas, and Erwin Strouhal
Eine Institution zwischen Repräsentation und Macht represents the latest in Austrian scholars’ attempts to come to grips with the Nazi legacy in their nation’s institutions. This volume takes up the fraught history of the Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst Wien (mdw) in three groups of essays, organized thematically—“Institution,” “Macht,” and “Repräsentation”—to present an extraordinary overview of its life under the influence of National Socialism and the cultural, social, and political contexts of the era. In 2012, the Österreichische Hochschülershaft called for intensive research on how the Nazi era affected all post-secondary education in Austria: One result was Österreichische Hochschulen im 20. Jahrhundert: Austrofaschismus, Nationalsozialismus und die Folgen (2013). At the mdw, Cornelia Szabó-Knotik from the Institut für Analyse, Theorie und Geschichte der Musik headed the initiatives that led to this present volume.
The result is a deep, broad, and careful analysis of the ways that an institution responds to and becomes implicated in politics, sometimes willingly, other times opportunistically as it furthers its own mission. It is a model for how a Staatsakademie became a Reichshochschule für Musik and then survived the war to become the mdw of today—a model on how to look beyond simple designations like “perpetrator,” “collaborator,” or “victim” and to see how the everyday business of an institution of higher education central to a nation’s history was critically (de)formed by history. Most critically, it provides a nuanced view as to the particular ways in which the Nazi leadership influenced the cultural [End Page 175] spheres in Austria beyond the imposition of its racial ideology, showing how a new vision of Austrian culture emerged out of it. Thus, any scholar of cultural history interested in Austria’s Nazi era needs to read this book to understand the complexity of what it meant to “be Nazi” for practitioners in the cultural spheres; it provides information not only on a specific school but on many of the arts institutions of the German-speaking world.
The volume starts with the institutional shifts undergone by the mdw. Lynne Heller presents “Die Staatsakademie bzw. Reichshochschule für Musik in Wien 1938–1945,” a history of the institution that achieved the status of a university only through the intervention of the Nazi hierarchy. Included are statistics and stories about how the personnel were (mis)treated contractually and detailed descriptions on curricular shifts that brought the study of music under the aegis of Nazi ideology, played out most visibly in the position of music education in its curriculum. This essay sets the bar for the volume’s quality and significance: Here, as elsewhere, authors dig deeply into the institution’s archives to provide complete accounts of the situation (working through, for example, all concerts in a period or all the professors appointed or fired in an era so that the reader gets an overview of trends and drawing parallels with equivalent institutions, such as the Mozarteum).
Following that overview, Erwin Strouhal casts a careful eye on a single event in the essay “Zusammenspiel: Das ‘Professoren-Konzert’ der Staatsakademie für Musik und darstellende Kunst vom 12. Dezember 1938 als Beispiel für Repräsentation, Macht und Institution,” drawing together many story threads about an event colored by ideology. The professors and events implicated in this fateful concert under the Nazis help us to decipher the implications of aesthetic choices made against a political backdrop.
Two other essays in this first section show how an arts institution can assume new historical roles: Jasmin Linzer’s “‘Musikerziehung ist heute nationalsozialistische Erziehung’: Musikerziehung an der Abteilung für Musikerziehung in Wien und ihre Berührungspunkte mit der Hitlerjugend” and Katharina Scharf’s discussion of the Mozarteum as “die Herzkammer des Salzburger...