The Death of Europa: The Rise and Fall of the Inter-War Avant-Garde

The infamous "bathroom scene" from the premiere of Paul Hindemith's opera Hin und Zurück at the Kroll Opera in Berlin, in 1929.
The infamous “bathroom scene” from the premiere of Paul Hindemith’s opera Hin und Zurück at the Kroll Opera in Berlin, in 1929.

Click play for the ninth episode of No Sounds Are Forbidden. Host Matthew Friedman explores the adventurous, and often chaotic street-level avant-garde of Central Europe between the World Wars. In Berlin, Prague, and Vienna, radical composers, writers, and critics promoted a new vision of European culture that rejected the “immutable truths” of the Anciens Regimes. For a brief moment in the 1920s and 1930s, Central Europe’s opera houses and cabarets swung to the pulsing rhythms of unrestrained experimentation, revolution, and jazz. But the rise of the Third Reich, and the Nazis’ campaign to cleanse Europe of “Bolshevism, modernism, and Judaism,” snuffed out avant-garde music and art — and the artists who created it, in exile, and in the camps.

This episode features music by Kurt Weill, Hanns Eisler, Stefan Wolpe, Paul Hindemith, Ernst Krenek, Viktor Ullmann, and Erwin Schulhoff.

In Phase/Out of Phase: The Radical Simplicity of Minimalism

Steve Reich performs at the Whitney Museum in 1969.
Steve Reich performs at the Whitney Museum in 1969.

Click play for the eighth episode of No Sounds Are Forbidden. Host Matthew Friedman explores the American avant-garde’s turn to minimalism in the late 1960s and 1970s. Launched as a critique of modernist intentionality, and the complexity of 20th century music, minimalist pioneers like Terry Riley and Steve Reich drew on diverse sources, from Asian and African music, and earlier experiments by the European avant-garde, to the ideas of the hippie counterculture, in order to craft a musical aesthetic that was, itself, the process of making music. And in the process, they innovated the inevitable soundtrack of post-industrial, networked society.

This episode features music by Riley, Reich, Philip Glass, Michael Nyman, John Adams, Ravi Shankar, Erik Satie, and Gabriel Faure.