(B5) Politico-National Material in a Spiritual Religious Form – Oratorio Composition from the 18th to the 20th Century
The musicological research project B5 is dedicated to the political functionalisation of religious music in diachronic comparison from the 18th to the 20th century, taking the oratorio genre as an example. It thus investigates a genre that is one of the least explored genres in the history of music.
a.) German Oratorios and Nationalism in the 19th and 20th Century (post-doctoral project)
In his “Populäre Vorträge über Bildung und Begründung eines musikalischen Urteils” (Popular Lectures on the Formation and the Reasons for a Musical Opinion) of 1877, Hermann Küster points to the importance that was placed on the oratorio. The dictum expressed by Küster, according to which “true artist’s souls” must sooner or later be inspired “to veritable national works”, does not only apply to the age of the (young) empire. In fact, a massive influence of nationalistic tendencies on the musical genre could already be detected ever since the French Revolutionary Wars. Beyond the maintenance and the reception of the ‘older’ oratories, a series of new “national works” emerges, with partly mythological and historical subjects from the Germanic or Nordic cultural area. In this manner, it becomes apparent that inherently to the genre, religious root and continuous religious tradition (up until the present) are entangled with a parallel secularisation. This repertoire of 19th-century German oratorios, which has not been revealed in full, forms the central purpose of the project. The political events of the 20th century as well as their impact on and reflexion in oratorial works mark the end of the time frame investigated. The spectrum covered ranges from the genre’s instrumentalisation in National Socialism up to the reflexion of events in the post-war period.