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The Musical World has Changed Since Shostakovich - Peter Jonas on the Music of the 20th Century

In the current issue of the periodical "Das Orchester" (05/03), a conversation with Bettina Hölscher and Sir Peter Jonas, Director of the Bavarian State Opera in Munich, has appeared (pp. 8-14). In it, Jonas makes the following statements, among others:

 

"(...) Since Shostakovich, the entire musical world has changed greatly. Composers are not to be blamed for the present situation, but rather the 'Third Reich.' During this time, there were composers in Germany who were members of the theatrical and orchestral landscape, as for example Goldschmidt and Korngold. They were banished. At the same time in Russia, Stalin put a muzzle on Shostakovich. I find it fascinating to play with the thought of what might have happened if Korngold and Goldschmidt had stayed in the German opera houses; after all, they worked there as rehearsal pianists or conductors. Or if Shostakovich had written another seven operas after 'Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District.' This opera could be an example of a (for its time) modern and also comprehensible and popular musical language. But no, instead came the ban on 'degenerate art,' and along came established Reichskunst, Reichsmusik, which was banal. Then, after the war, a kind of revolution took place. (...) Music went in one direction, deviating from the language of the public, which is alright to a certain extent, but it went so far that it is now really difficult for the man in the street to understand. We forget that the musical developments from the beginning of the 20th century are also contained in works of the Broadway composer Stephen Sondheim; but as a serious popular composer, he remains only an eccentric voice."