Sounds of Resistance: Kurt Masur and the Leipzig Gewandhaus vs. “actually existing Socialism” between 1970 and 1989

CGS Brown Bag Series
Feb 18, 2015
01:30 PM to 02:30 PM
101 Old Botany

Juliane Schicker, Penn State 

This talk will examine how Kurt Masur used his concert hall as a space of political dissidence for more than twenty years. His personal actions and artistic choices contributed to a vision that countered “actually existing Socialism” and advocated a humanist utopia within a restrictive state. Considering Masur’s artistic choices and the connections between the classical music apparatus and the East German state, I claim that classical music was used to overcome censorship, surveillance, and physical borders. I show how the position as Gewandhauskapellmeister provided Masur with a level of cultural authority that allowed him to take certain liberties in dealing with the political and cultural party officials without the fear of negative repercussions. The talk will question the still commonly held assumption that in East Germany, classical music performances were merely an extension of the state. The findings will contribute to the research on resistance culture in the GDR, and help explain the varied ways in which people in the state tried to adapt to or change the political apparatus.

Juliane Schicker is a doctoral student in the Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures. Her research has been supported by grants from the Max Kade Foundation, the Center for Global Studies, the Institute for the Arts and Humanities, and the College of the Liberal Arts. Her research interests include questions of identity, the artistic expression of the Self and the other, the connection between literature, music, and society, as well as the cultural past of East Germany. 

This lecture is a part of the Center for Global Studies Brown Bag Series which focuses on interdisciplinary faculty and graduate research.

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