By now the world is well aware of the injustices heaped upon not only Jewish artists during the Holocaust, but the decent souls who stood in the line of their defense. Clearly, to deny an established and well-respected artist the right to work, or to be heard and read, as in the case of Viennese author and playwright Stefan Zweig, is to blot out his identity and existence. We know that all of humanity stands to lose when its creative forces are silenced. One cannot help but contemplate the amount of sheer talent and genius that was extinguished at the self-destructive hands of the Third Reich.
Recently I reconnected with Bob Elias, President of The OREL Foundation. I clicked on this site and listened to an audio welcome by founder and artistic director, James Conlon. The OREL Foundation, through their website, is devoted to providing a resource for scholars, musicians, and music lovers. Its aim is to inspire further research and performances of music by composers banned and suppressed from 1933-1945. I couldn't believe the wealth of material on this website available for exploration.
|The Dwarf: Rodrick Dixon (L.A. Opera)|
Zemlinsky's expressive score is spell-binding. Orientalist idioms recall those of Mahler and lighter sections, those of Lehar. The music is perfectly suited to Wilde's fairy-tale plot, although the opera's psychological complexity might have been somewhat of an obstacle to its initial success. Ridiculed for having been "ugly as sin" and referred to as "the gnome" by his lover, the Viennese femme fatale, Alma Schindler (who later married Gustav Mahler and a few other leading men), "The Dwarf" might be the closest window we can crack open to probe Zemlinsky's wounded self-image. Although he emigrated to the United States in 1938 to join his brother-in-law, composer Arnold Schoenberg, after having witnessed strong anti-semitism in Vienna, Zemlinsky lived out the remainder of his years in relative obscurity.
My exploration continues. In the next day or two, I'll receive Franz Schreker's "Die Gezenchneten".
I fell madly in love with this prelude. Listen yourself. You might catch strains of "Star Trek: The Movie".