By Lorenzo Guggenheim.
Analyzing the case of Franz Schreker (1878-1934), the most performed living opera composer in Europe in the first decades of the 20th Century, is key to understanding how globalization affects the course of music history in distinct ways and also to distinguish what makes composers renowned and worthy of performance by the top orchestras in the world.
Schreker was well-established in Germany and Austria, known not only for his operas but for his work as a conductor and as Director of the Hochschule für Musik in Berlin between 1920 and 1932, when he was dismissed by the Nazis. The following year, he suffered a stroke which later caused his death, making it impossible for him to defend himself and his music from prohibition in Austro-German territory. In 1938 his figure was included in the Entartete Kunst exhibition meant to display forbidden authors. These were only some of the factors that caused Schreker’s name not to survive the test of time.
After the war, his music suffered a second hit when it was not brought back to its rightful place. Other composers did enjoy a revival, among them Mahler, who thanks to the championship of conductor and composer Leonard Bernstein was recognized and enjoyed by audiences as never before.
Comparing Franz Schreker’s failed revivals to the successful case of Mahler and early 20th Century composers will bring light to the power that globalization has in determining the music that orchestras play nowadays.