Investigating the relationship between musical Modernism and German cinema means paving the way for a rather unorthodox research path, one which has been little explored up until now. The main figures of musical Modernism, from Alban Berg to Paul Hindemith, and from Richard Strauss to Kurt Weill, actually had a significant relationship with cinema. True, it was a complex and contradictory relationship in which cinema sometimes emerged more as an aesthetic point of reference than a factual reality. Nonetheless, the reception of the language and aesthetic of cinema had a significant influence on the domain of music.
Between 1913 and 1933, Modernist composers’ exploration of cinema reaches such a degree of pervasiveness and consistency as to become a true aesthetic paradigm, which underpins the Modernist project in its innermost essence. The creative confrontation with the avant-garde medium par excellence represents a vector of musical Modernism: a new aesthetic paradigm for that process of deliberate misinterpretation, creative revisionism, and sometimes even intentional subversion of the Classic-Romantic tradition that constituted the historical actualization of the “dream of Otherness” of the Modernist generation.
Francesco Finocchiaro, Modernismo musicale e cinema tedesco nel Primo Novecento, Lucca, LIM, 2017.