Robert Schumann in the Third Reich
This chapter examines how writers and musicologists sympathetic to the Nazi cause attempted to overcome Schumann's contested reception history and describes the obstacles they encountered in so doing. Based on German primary sources from the era, the chapter specifically discusses responses to Schumann's relationship with Richard Wagner, mental illness, ties to Heinrich Heine, and, inevitably, his association with Felix Mendelssohn. In these materials Schumann was positioned as a tarnished sonic emblem, or “hardly hero.” The treatment of such figures—seen as significant, yet inferior to Wagner or Beethoven, in Nazi cultural ideology—offers valuable insight into musical politics during the Third Reich, Nazi values, and the regime's methods of musical appropriation. The chapter contributes to Schumann scholarship, which has generally overlooked the composer's standing in the Third Reich, as well as to secondary literature on music in Nazi Germany.
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