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Artists in Exile: How Refugees from Twentieth-Century War and Revolution Transformed the American Performing Arts [Englisch] [Gebundene Ausgabe]

Joseph Horowitz

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5. Februar 2008

During the first half of the twentieth century—decades of war and revolution in Europe—an "intellectual migration" relocated thousands of artists and thinkers to the United States, including some of Europe's supreme performing artists, filmmakers, playwrights, and choreographers. For them, America proved to be both a strange and opportune destination. A "foreign homeland" (Thomas Mann), it would frustrate and confuse, yet afford a clarity of understanding unencumbered by native habit and bias. However inadvertently, the condition of cultural exile would promote acute inquiries into the American experience. What impact did these famous newcomers have on American culture, and how did America affect them?

George Balanchine, in collaboration with Stravinsky, famously created an Americanized version of Russian classical ballet. Kurt Weill, schooled in Berlin jazz, composed a Broadway opera. Rouben Mamoulian's revolutionary Broadway productions of Porgy and Bess and Oklahoma! drew upon Russian "total theater." An army of German filmmakers—among them F. W. Murnau, Fritz Lang, Ernst Lubitsch, and Billy Wilder—made Hollywood more edgy and cosmopolitan. Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich redefined film sexuality. Erich Korngold upholstered the sound of the movies. Rudolf Serkin inspirationally inculcated dour Germanic canons of musical interpretation. An obscure British organist reinvented himself as "Leopold Stokowski." However, most of these gifted émigrés to the New World found that the freedoms they enjoyed in America diluted rather than amplified their high creative ambitions.

A central theme of Joseph Horowitz's study is that Russians uprooted from St. Petersburg became "Americans"—they adapted. Representatives of Germanic culture, by comparison, preached a German cultural bible—they colonized. "The polar extremes," he writes, "were Balanchine, who shed Petipa to invent a New World template for ballet, and the conductor George Szell, who treated his American players as New World Calibans to be taught Mozart and Beethoven." A symbiotic relationship to African American culture is another ongoing motif emerging from Horowitz's survey: the immigrants "bonded with blacks from a shared experience of marginality"; they proved immune to "the growing pains of a young high culture separating from parents and former slaves alike."


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“Heroically researched . . . chock-full of fascinating vignettes, stunning quotations, and shrewd insights on the fly.” (New York Times)

A masterful study of how the Russian Revolution, the rise of European fascism and the second world war all transformed the American performing arts (The Economist)

A persuasive examination of the most compelling of twentieth centurycultural phenomena, how refugees from all across Europe, running the gamutfrom George Balanchine to Billy Wilder, revolutionized American artisticlife. Erudite, incisive, inconoclastic, as readable as it is comprehensive,this is just the kind of treatment the participants themselves would haverelished. (Kenneth Turan, film critic, Los Angeles Times)

“A rich assembly, an unmasked ball teeming with famous names. . . . Horowitz can make judgements boldly, out of deep knowledge. . . . The way Horowtiz raves learnedly...should send any reader diving into Amazon.” (Times Literary Supplement (London))

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

Joseph Horowitz is the author of seven previous books, including Understanding Toscanini (named one of the best books of the year by the New York Book Critics Circle and Publishers Weekly) and Classical Music in America (named one of the best books of the year by the Economist). A former New York Times music critic and executive director of the Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra, he is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and two NEH Fellowships, among other honors. He lives in New York City.

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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 3.4 von 5 Sternen  5 Rezensionen
10 von 10 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen A fascinating read 24. Mai 2008
Von A. Thiele - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
This is a great book, very well researched and written in an easy-to-read manner. I don't understand the other two reviewers - I even checked to see if I had bought a second edition when I read about the language being a "disgrace". There are a couple of typos early on, but the rest of the book is beautifully written.

I can't judge about the correct year of a movie being 1915 or 1916 or 1918, which another reviewer lists as one of the "wince-making" errors in the book, but in my opinion this is beside the point. Scholars interested in a specific person profiled here will not buy this book; they will buy a biography of that person instead.

This book is for anyone who wants to learn more about the impact of a sudden change in culture on people's ability to make art - the change being of course the ascent of the Nazis to power and World War II, which drove many Europeans to exile in the United States. The author doesn't restrict himself to one genre, instead choosing to cover dance, music, cinema and theater; as a result, he spends only a few pages on each of the many celebrities (Toscanini, Dietrich, etc) he writes about, but there are enough notes at the end of the book to help the curious reader find references regarding this or that person. Besides, many artists with high potential did not fare too well after they arrived in the States and are now largely forgotten. I can see how the lack of space devoted to any one person might frustrate some readers, though. The book is more an overview than an in-depth examination of how exile has affected specific individuals.

I loved that book, and highly recommend it to anyone who wonders how changing cultures in adulthood affects artists and their ability to make art.
2 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen definitely worth reading 21. Februar 2009
Von Eve Beglarian - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
I agree that Horowitz does a better job with music, which is after all his specialty, than with film, but I found his assessments of the costs of exile very interesting and well-argued. His appreciations of Mamoulian, Nazimova, Mitropoulos, Varèse, and other less-currently-heralded artists are particularly welcome, though often quite heartbreaking.
8 von 11 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen A Little Out of His Depth 6. Mai 2008
Von Tom Moran - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Joseph Horowitz has written a valuable and entertaining book about the artists who fled Europe and Eastern Europe during the first half of the 20th Century and the contribution they ended up making to the arts in the United States. His discussion of musicians shows the knowledge and erudition that he has displayed in his other books on the subject - when it comes to film, however, his knowledge is scanty, and it shows.

He claims in his preface that his chapter on film was read by Richard Schickel - given the circumstances, and the fact that Schickel has had a forty-year career as a film critic, I'm a little surprised that the film section of the book has quite a few wince-making errors of fact:

p. 234 He lists The Birth of a Nation (1915) and Intolerance (1916) as having been made in 1916 and 1918, respectively.

p. 234 He follows the lead of several recent trashy biographies in stating that Charlie Chaplin "did not know who fathered him," which is most likely untrue.

p. 235 He claims that Chaplin's family was "sufficiently well-to-do to afford a maid," which shows a complete ignorance of the socio-economic realities of Victorian and Edwardian England, in which household help was plentiful and very cheap. It's like saying that a contemporary American family is rich enough to afford a cell phone.

p. 272 Grand Hotel was released in 1932, not 1944. He may be confusing it with the Americanized remake, Weekend at the Waldorf, which was released in 1945.

p. 300 He has Double Indemnity released in 1945 (it was a year earlier) and The Lost Weekend in 1948 (it was three years earlier).

p. 309 While not strictly speaking an error of fact, saying that Sunset Boulevard is "a well-turned anecdote more conventional than brave" is so idiotic that it deserves mention with the factual errors.

p. 335 Saying that David O. Selznick's 1944 film (for which he also wrote the screenplay) is John Cromwell's Since You Went Away is equally dumb, and takes the auteur theory to the point of lunacy.

Some would say that a handful of errors is not enough to vitiate an otherwise valuable book, and they may be right. But it does mar it sufficiently so that I would wait to read it until a later edition, when these errors can be corrected. Otherwise, stick to the chapters on music and leave the film section alone.

Tom Moran
1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
1.0 von 5 Sternen An overly pretentious read 1. Juli 2009
Von Joerg Colberg - Veröffentlicht auf
I was intrigued by the idea of the book, but it ended up as one of the few books that I didn't even finish reading (I made it just beyond the Marlene Dietrich bits). It's just such an overly pretentious read - did they use an editor? What was that editor thinking not cutting out the pomposity? It's almost ironic that the author talks about someone "cultural nationalism" in a footnote - and then engages in quite a lot himself.

But for me, the book's most glaring fault is that the author fails to explain some of the issues he raises, often instead just using circular logic.

I will admit that I was especially looking forward to the chapter on classical music, and it was such a disappointment! Anybody will be much better off reading Alex Ross' recent masterpiece on classical music in the 20th Century - which, even though it does not necessarily focus on artists in exile in the US, explains in much better detail why American classical music evolved the way it did.

As an expat I also missed any understanding of some of the issues the artists in exile must have faced. For the most part, artists yearning for their countries are being dismissed as irrelevant, whereas those willing to adapt are being praised. The tremendous strain that being in exile must have meant for both are simply ignored. For a book about artists in exile that's a glaring omission.
2 von 5 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Fascinating But Sloppy 2. April 2008
Von Paul Crabtree - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
Great subject, interestingly told, but did anybody edit the language? It's a disgrace. If so many mistakes made it through, I wonder whether anybody did any fact-checking either.
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