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Talk: Music, Modernity and International Solidarity

Event Details

June 29, 2018
2:00 pm-4:30 pm

South College

Room: E470

UMass Amherst Campus

Handicap access available
Free admission

Music, Modernity and International Solidarity | Johanna Yunker, UMass Amherst

Issues of race underpinned the critical discourse on “authentic” jazz forms, and the GDR’s enthusiasm for certain jazz genres signaled solidarity with oppressed African Americans. This solidarity can also be seen in works by GDR composers—such as Paul Dessau, Reiner Bredemeyer and Ernst Hermann Meyer—that addressed the Global South and display a conspicuous lack of musical “exoticism.” 


Uschi Brüning GDR Magazine 1972/25 - #1

(GDR, 1972, 8 min., color, doc.)  

Famous GDR jazz singer Brüning works on her new record.   

Monolog for a Taxi Driver

Monolog für einen Taxifahrer

(GDR, dir. Güner Stahnke, 37 min., b/w, TV, EN ST)

An East Berlin taxi driver’s shift on Christmas Eve turns into a reflection on life, society and his strained relationship with his wife. This short film features a surprisingly modern jazz score by Karl-Ernst Sasse.

Against Idiocy in Music – Hanns Eisler

Komm ins Offene Freund! Oder gegen die Dummheit in der Musik

(GDR, 1989, dir. Andrea Ritterbusch, 23 min., b/w, doc., EN ST)

This portrait of Hanns Eisler, one of the GDR’s most renowned composers, discusses his difficulties with socialist cultural policies, including the ban of his opera Johann Faustus. By one of the few female GDR directors represented in the program.

Paul Dessau

(GDR, 1966, dir. Richard Cohn-Vossen, 31 min., b/w, doc., EN ST)

A portrait of prominent GDR composer Paul Dessau during rehearsals of his orchestral work entitled Bach Variations. He speaks against the oversimplification of music.


(GDR, 1966, dir. Walter Heynowski, 5 min., b/w, doc., EN ST)

Heynowski links East German blood donors to the Vietnamese people who receive this precious gift in a series of intercut images set to original choral music by Paul Dessau.


(GDR, 1981 Heinz Nagel, 6 min., color, anim.)
An animated interpretation of Bayon’s Suite No. 4. The musical ensemble’s works blend Khmer pentatonic music with classical, jazz and rock elements. Bayon contributed a song to The Lives of Others (2006).