Sight & Sound Experience of Gustav Klimt – Atelier des lumières Paris
On the threshold of the twentieth century, many artists were guided in their work by the desire – and the search – for a perfect world. It had to do with the spirit of the times, among other things, and it influenced many painters, writers, poets and composers in their work. But with no other artist it was as prominent as with Franz Schreker (1878-1934). The search for ‘the’ sound dominated his entire life, he was fascinated and obsessed with it. A sound that would die of its own accord, but not really, because it had to continue to be heard – if only in your thoughts. It had to be a pure sound, but one with orgasmic desire and interwoven with visions. Narcotic. In his music I really hear the perfect sound that he so desired which makes me intensely happy.
For Schreker you can wake me up in the middle of the night. The fusion of shameless emotions with undisguised eroticism and intense beauty turns me into an ‘Alice in wonderland’. I want more and more of it. Call me a junkie. I consider his operas to be the most beautiful in existence, alongside those of Puccini and Korngold.When the Nazis came to power, Schreker was labelled an ‘entartet’. His works were banned and no longer performed.
In 1933 he was dismissed from all his engagements and suspended. Schreker was devastated. In December of that year he suffered a heart attack which became fatal to him. But even after the war Schreker was hardly ever performed. The same fate awaited him as (among others) Korngold, Braunfels, Goldschmidt, Zemlinsky, Waxman …. An unprecedented number of names of composers. They were once labelled ‘Entartet’ by the Nazis and banned, reviled, expelled and murdered. Forgotten.And that was not just the fault of the Nazis. After the war, the young generation of composers did not want to know about emotions anymore. Music had to be devoid of any sentiment and subject to strict rules.
Music had to become universal: serialism was born. The past was dealt with, including composers from the 1930s. It is only in the last thirty years that the once forbidden composers have regained their voices. The Saturday Matinee has played a major role in this and I thank them on my bare knees for that.