“Isidor, send me a postcard from Zion!”



The City Without Jews (A 1924, d: Hans Karl Breslauer, b: Ida Jenbach); Hugo-Bettauer-Platz, Vienna; September 12, 2018; 6.30 p.m.

Vienna, March 10, 1925. Author, screenwriter, and journalist Hugo Bettauer was shot down in his editorial office, Lange Gasse 5–7, by the 21-year-old nationalist Otto Rothstock. Two weeks later, Bettauer died of his wounds at the hospital. The murder ended a malicious campaign against Bettauer, whose liberal-minded, yet controversial works took an unequivocal stand for sexual openness and liberation, condemning, among others, the punishment of abortion. Several of his works have been adapted for film, among them Joyless Street [orig.: Die freudlose Gasse, 1924] and The City Without Jews [orig.: Die Stadt ohne Juden, 1922]. The film version of Joyless Street was directed by Georg Wilhelm Pabst, starring Asta Nielsen, Greta Garbo, and Werner Krauß, and premiered at the Berlin Mozartsaal in 1925, two months after the murder of the novel’s author. One year earlier, Hans Karl Breslauer’s adaptation of The City Without Jews premiered at the Vienna Haydn-Kino, followed by Hindenburg, Kino Handl, Opern-Kino, and Zirkus Busch-Kino. Said to be an “involuntarily prophetic historical film document”, The City Without Jews criticizes by parodying anti-Semitism: Due to the desperate financial situation, a large part of the people of Utopia (in the novel: Vienna) are dissatisfied and seditious. Following the masses, the chancellor announces a law forcing all Jewish citizens to emigrate by December 25. The Christians’ initial enthusiasm soon turns into a new dissatisfaction, as the cultural life impoverishes and the economy declines again. Having returned from exile with forged papers, Leo Strakosch starts a poster campaign by the fictitious “Confederation of the True Christians” demanding the return of the Jews for the sake of Utopia. People start realizing that they could actually benefit from the Jewish economic expertise. In the end, the law is taken back and the Jews are warmly welcomed by the Mayor of Utopia, Laberl, while the anti-Semitic councilor Bernart finds himself arrested in an asymmetric, Caligarian cell of a psychiatry, being pursued by the Star of David.

Despite crowded cinemas, the film did not keep up with the tremendous success of Bettauer’s sharp-witted novel. Nevertheless, it does represent an important historical document in many ways: Not only did the film provide grounds for riots at the movie theaters, thus reflecting the anti-Semitic reality of the early 1920s; an incomplete copy found at today’s EYE Film Instituut Nederland in 1991 and restored on behalf of the Austrian Film Archive is supposed to have been shown at the last screening, which took place at the Amsterdam Circus Carré in 1933 as a symbol against Nazism. In 2015, new film material was found at a flea market in Paris. Thanks to Austria’s most successful cultural crowd-funding campaign—which, as Nikolaus Wostry has emphasized, can be seen as a worldwide engagement against the present political swing to the right—, the Austrian Film Archive was able to restore the Parisian copy. This 2018 version contains scenes that demonstrate both the torment and deportation of the Jewish citizens. Its first performance took place on March 21, 2018, at the Metro Kinokulturhaus in Vienna; the release of the DVD will follow this November.

As part of the Cinema of Places [Kino der Orte] series, the expanded version of The City Without Jews is currently shown at various Viennese locations, which are directly linked to the Jewish culture of the city or to the history of the film. Each of the screenings is accompanied by different musicians. The attended screening took place at the Hugo-Bettauer-Platz, named after the novel’s author in 2009, only 130 meters away from Bettauer’s editorial office. The program started with a Klezmer concert by Roman Grinberg, followed by a welcome by Veronika Mickel-Göttfert (district commissioner of Josefstadt) and an introduction to the film by Nikolaus Wostry (head of collections of the Austrian Film Archive). Pianist Gerhard Gruber, Vienna’s local hero of silent film performance, accompanied the screening. Together with Peter Rosmanith (percussion) and Adula Ibn Quadr (violin), he had been responsible for the musical arrangement of the earlier DVD version. His confident musical improvisation included a pinpoint illustration of the action, showing that he was quite familiar with the film. However, as he told me afterward, Gruber had to adjust to the higher playing speed of the 2018 version, which, at times, created a grotesque effect, thus emphasizing the film’s satirical style. The proficient pianist avoided an overdose of “Mickey Mousing”, focusing, instead, on the general mood. Popular tunes, such as “O, du lieber Augustin” characterizing the drunken Councilor Bernart or the diegetic “Für Elise” that Lotte is (or might be) playing at the piano after having told her father that she is in love with a Parisian painter, were skillfully integrated into the musical illustration. The audience thanked both Gruber and the Austrian Film Archive with an enthusiastic applause.

Upcoming performances will take place at the Jewish Museum Vienna (September 17, 2018); the Nordwestbahnhof (September 20, 2018) with live music by Ritornell; the Office of the Austrian Federal President (October 15, 2018) and the Wiener Urania (October 17, 2018) with live music by Gerhard Gruber, Peter Rosmanith, and Adula Ibn Quadr; the Wiener Konzerthaus (November 7, 2018) with Ensemble PHACE performing the world premiere of Olga Neuwirth’s original soundtrack; and the Theater Akzent (November 18, 2018) with live music by Gerhard Gruber. Screenings outside of Vienna include Graz (September 19, 2018) with live music by Gerhard Gruber; Linz (October 11, 2018) with live music by Ritornell; and Hohenems (October 17, 2018) with live music performed by jazz pianist Peter Madsen.



Musikblätter des Anbruch

Musikblätter des Anbruch, Wien, UE, 1926

From 1919 to 1934, the Viennese publishing house Universal-Edition (UE) released the earliest journal specifically devoted to modern music: the Musikblätter des Anbruch, as of 1929 simply called Anbruch. The (Musikblätter des) Anbruch was connected to the eponymous expressionist group, whose periodical Der Anbruch. Flugblätter aus der Zeit (1917–1922) represented the mouthpiece of literary expressionism. Otto Schneider, later artistic director of the Neue Musikgesellschaft “Der Anbruch” in Berlin, was (co-)founder and chief editor of both the Flugblätter and the Musikblätter until 1922, being also responsible for Der Anbruch. Ein Jahrbuch neuer Jugend (1920).

Focusing on modern music and culture, the journal’s establishment also correlated with the establishment of Melos in Berlin (1920–1934) and Der Auftakt in Prague (1920–1938). Furthermore, it came along with the foundation of Arnold Schönberg’s Verein für musikalische Privataufführungen (1918), the Salzburger Festspiele (1920), and the Internationale Gesellschaft für Neue Musik (IGNM, 1922), whose leading figures regularly contributed to the (Musikblätter des) Anbruch: In 1922, critic Paul Stefan, co-founder of the IGNM, succeeded Schneider as chief editor until the journal’s demise in 1937. The editorial board also included names such as Alfred Kalmus, Paul Amadeus Pisk, Hans Heinsheimer, and Theodor W. Adorno. Progressive composers and writers—critics as well as musicologists—were among the journal’s contributors, e. g. Ernst Křenek, Franz Schreker, Arnold Schönberg, Alban Berg, Kurt Weill, Béla Bartók, Egon Wellesz, Paul Bekker, and Hans Heinz Stuckenschmidt. Moreover, several authors studied with Arnold Schönberg (Alban Berg, Paul Amadeus Pisk, Paul Stefan, Erwin Stein, Egon Wellesz, Alexander Jemnitz), Franz Schreker (Ernst Křenek, Paul Amadeus Pisk, Karol Rathaus), or Alban Berg (Theodor W. Adorno). Therefore, the (Musikblätter des) Anbruch represented the most important platform for contemporary critical, aesthetical, and theoretical discourses in the German-speaking countries.

The journal was divided into three main sections: 1) comprehensive articles on music theory and aesthetics; 2) discussions and analyses of the latest compositions and performances; 3) commentaries on recently published music and on musical life. Despite an astonishing range of topics, also including non-European (musical) cultures, the journal’s focus lay on contemporary music. Special issues were devoted to Soviet Russia, jazz music, dance, singing, contemporary opera, music and mechanics, or particular composers; sections on music automatons discussed innovative instruments and sound generators. As each issue closed with an extensive advertisement section, the journal further functioned as self-promotion for the young Viennese publishing house, which had been releasing contemporary music since 1908.

As of September 1930, the Anbruch incorporated Pult und Taktstock. Fachzeitschrift für Dirigenten. In 1935, the journal was taken over by the Vorwärts-Verlag and renamed Anbruch. Österreichische Zeitschrift für Musik, gradually neglecting its former leading figures and thus, its principles, which used to be modernism and internationalism.

Special issues: Musik und Maschine (October/November 1926); Leichte Musik (March 1929); Probleme der Kompositionstechnik (September/October 1929); Wo stehen wir? (June 1930).

Die Musik

Die Musik, Berlin, Schuster & Loeffler, 1914–15

In 1901, composer Bernhard Schuster (1870–1934) established the illustrated music journal Die Musik that was published semimonthly by Schuster & Loeffler (Berlin–Leipzig) until 1915. After an interruption of seven years, the publisher merged with the Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt (Stuttgart), also known for its music books by important writers and critics. In 1929, the journal was taken over by Max Hesses Verlag (Berlin). Schuster remained editor-in-chief until 1933, when the journal became a propaganda organ of the Nazi regime. In 1943, the consolidation of Die Musik, the (Neue) Zeitschrift für Musik, the Allgemeine Musikzeitung, and the Neues Musikblatt (formerly Melos) led to the Musik im Kriege.

Die Musik reached a wide readership by virtue of its music supplements and iconographic documents, its special issues, and its variety of topics—including copyright questions and the social status of musicians, pedagogical issues, jazz and film music as well as reviews of concert and opera performances, conferences and festivals, books and sheet music, and international newspaper articles. Thus, it became the most successful and prestigious German-language music journal of the first half of the twentieth century.

See for instance: Guido Bagier (Musikalische Probleme des Films, 1925; Probleme des Tonfilms, 1927), Paul Marsop (Lichtspiel und Lichtspielmusik, 1924), Hans Heinz Stuckenschmidt (Die Musik zum Film, 1926), Robert Beyer (Musik und Film, 1929; Tonfilm, 1929).

Section: Mechanische Musik (from 1927 to 1930).

Special Issue: Funk, Phono und Tonfilm (January 1932).