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New Perspectives on Contemporary Austrian Literature and Culture


Edited By Katya Krylova

This volume brings together contributions arising from papers originally presented at the Contemporary Austrian Literature, Film and Culture International Conference held at the University of Nottingham in April 2015. It examines trends in contemporary Austrian literature, film and culture, predominantly over the past thirty years. This period has been one of great transformation in Austrian society, with the Waldheim affair of 1986–1988 marking the beginning of a belated process of confronting the country’s National Socialist past. The sixteen chapters of the volume analyse literary texts, films, memorial projects and Austria’s musical heritage, considering works by cultural practitioners operating both within and outside of Austria. The collection offers a multi-perspectival view on how contemporary Austria sees itself and how it is, in turn, seen by others from various vantage points.

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16 ‘Walzer für Nazis’: The Vienna Philharmonic and the Nazi Past (Lauren Freede)


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16 ‘Walzer für Nazis’: The Vienna Philharmonic and the Nazi Past


The New Year’s Day concert given each year by the Vienna Philharmonic is one of the most famous public manifestations of Austrian identity. Yet the annual musical extravaganza is also the event which, in late 2012, triggered a renewed focus on the orchestra’s activities during National Socialism, as well as the fact that these had largely remained unexplored. The subsequent media and political pressure forced the orchestral administration under Clemens Hellsberg to commission an investigation into the orchestra’s actions between 1938 and 1945, the results of which were made available online on 11 March 2013 and culminated in the documentary Schatten der Vergangenheit broadcast on ORF the same evening. This chapter explores the orchestra’s narration of its own history both before and after this key anniversary and challenges the view that the orchestra and the classical repertoire it performs can be seen as unremittingly positive elements of the Austrian nation.

Articles about the Vienna Philharmonic appear in both Austrian and international media with some regularity in the period immediately before and after the annual New Year’s Day concert. However, the headlines which emerged between December 2012 and March 2013 upended the usual publicity accorded the glossy musical spectacle and instead drew attention to a much less widely broadcast part of orchestral tradition: namely, the long-standing failure to deal with the organization’s links to the...

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