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Challenging the ModernConservative Revolution in German Music, 1918-1933$
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Nicholas Attfield

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780197266137

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197266137.001.0001

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‘Sympathie mit dem Tode’: Thomas Mann, Hans Pfitzner, and the further reflections of a non-political man

‘Sympathie mit dem Tode’: Thomas Mann, Hans Pfitzner, and the further reflections of a non-political man

Chapter:
(p.35) 2 ‘Sympathie mit dem Tode’: Thomas Mann, Hans Pfitzner, and the further reflections of a non-political man
Source:
Challenging the Modern
Author(s):

Nicholas Attfield

Publisher:
British Academy
DOI:10.5871/bacad/9780197266137.003.0003

Perhaps the most infamous of the Weimar musical ‘anti-modernists’, Hans Pfitzner is well known for his polemics against Paul Bekker and Busoni and his opera Palestrina, products of the First World War’s end. Pfitzner’s relationship with Thomas Mann has also been discussed, particularly in terms of Mann’s description, in his Reflections of a Nonpolitical Man, of Pfitzner as the bearer of ‘sympathy with death’. As this chapter details, Mann’s early post-war work situated Pfitzner at the heart of a drive for revival, based around the ‘Hans Pfitzner Association for German Composition’, and linked to Mann’s idiosyncratic notions of cultural-political ‘synthesis’ and Humanität. This revival provoked Pfitzner’s swerve from opera towards the more direct public form of the cantata. Here, in his 1921 work Von deutscher Seele, the allegedly reclusive Pfitzner tried to strike a ‘popular’ tone and seized the moment to address his vision of the entire German nation.

Keywords:   Hans Pfitzner, Thomas Mann, sympathy with death, Humanität, Von deutscherSeele, Romantic cantata, Eichendorff

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