The article deals with the human reasons that led Karl Amadeus Hartmann to compose his piano sonata 27. April 1945 while observing the Todesmarsch of the Dachau concentration camp internees. The author sheds light on ostinato patterns and several allusive citations (revolutionary songs, classic and popular themes) which would support the fundamentally “protest” meaning of this piece, according to its consolidated critical tradition. The sonata is seen as a part of Hartmann’s output under the Third Reich, and the composer as one of the inner emigrants—thus belonging to the broader context of the German opposition to Hitler. The second part of the article comes back to the meaning of the piece, without however identifying a direct, exclusive political message, which the composer himself claimed to reject. Rather, on the dual tracks of philology and anthropology, the author explores the musical signs and sounds to grasp how this sonata comes to life by retrieving archetypes from the depths of European musical culture, among them the exile, a universal symbol of the fate that populations had to suffer in extreme and controversial forms as a result of WorldWar II. Hartmann’s music testifies to history by gathering images of conflict, belonging and exile within a symbolic space inhabited not only by all those who suffered the Nazi’s attacks—right down to the victims of the Shoah—but also by those who caused that war, or were affected by the catastrophe of the German people.


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pp. 67-91
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