Music theatre in Strasbourg (1900-1950): the interaction between music theatre and society
01 / 2005 - 12 / 2007
Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (NWO)
This project proposes to study music theatre in Strasbourg between 1900 and 1950 and its interaction with society by analysing a selection of opera productions and connecting their characteristics to factors that shaped them, such as (a) cultural politics, (b) aesthetic theories, (c) economic factors and (d) public response. In order to do this, a methodological framework has been created which brings together elements from system theory, network theory, reception theory and the principles of ¿new musicology¿. The choice to focus on Strasbourg in the period 1900-1950 is motivated by the peculiar position of this city, the capital of the Alsace-Lorraine, a region disputed by France and Germany for a large part of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. From 1900 to 1950 four different administrations would determine theatrical production. Rather than trying to arrive at an exhaustive description, the project will focus on three aspects: (1) the artistic legacy of Hans Pfitzner, one of Germany¿s most prominent composers of the era, as Strasbourg¿s general opera director (1908-1917), (2) German performances during the interwar period, when Strasbourg belonged to France (1918-1940) and (3) the attempts of Nazi authority to transform the Strasbourg theatre, which was enlarged in 1941 on Hitler¿s explicit wishes, into an icon of German high culture (1940-1944). Music theatre in Strasbourg has received very little attention until now. Lack of sources cannot have been the reason for the absence of research on this subject: a preliminary survey, conducted by the applicant in july-august 2002, revealed the theatre¿s archives to be well-ordered and rich in content. The innovative approach consists in uniting musical and theatrical analysis with theories of production, distribution and consumption of culture that, although providing valuable insights otherwise, too often evade being confronted with the actual artistic content of the objects they treat.