Woodcut by Conrad Felixmüller of the composer Erwin Schulhoff, Prague 1924. Lindenau-Museum, Altenburg, VG Bild-Kunst
Of all the composers covered by the term ‘Entarte music’, Erwin Schulhoff is the most complex.
Contrary to what various anthologies tell us, Schulhoff was never in Theresienstadt. Nor was he murdered in Auschwitz. The hybrid Czech composer who did not fit into any pigeonhole had simply been unlucky. The Russian citizenship he applied for came two days too late, so instead of being in the Soviet Union, he ended up in the Wülzburg concentration camp, where he died of tuberculosis in 1942.
From his early childhood, Schulhoff was fascinated by everything new. Heartily embracing dada and jazz, he also had a particular liking for the grotesque. His music crossed borders and genres – sometimes even those of a “good decency”.