For the last two days, I’ve been writing about Michael Walsh’s amazing, bold, dazzling new book, The Devil’s Pleasure Palace: The Cult of Critical Theory and the Subversion of the West. I begin today’s installment with a note about Theodor Adorno and music.
The Nazis labeled a group of composers — Romantic and usually Jewish — “degenerate.” They banned them from the stage. After the war, modernists and leftists treated them little better. Adorno, in fact, scorned them in language indistinguishable from the Nazis’.
One of those composers, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, had a successful career in Hollywood, though that’s not the career he had aimed for, or the one, I would argue, he was destined for. In any case, I want to throw you a link. This is in honor of Michael’s association with both Hollywood and music, and of the composers tarred as “degenerate.”
Here is my favorite recording of the Korngold Violin Concerto. The soloist is a young Gil Shaham with the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by that old Hollywood hand (among other things), André Previn.
Click on the last movement, to give yourself a morning jolt.
P.S. In a brutal, clever review for the New York Sun, Irving Kolodin labeled the new violin concerto “more corn than gold.” My heading, of course, reverses the jibe.