Edited By Lucyna Aleksandrowicz-Pędich and Jacek Partyka
Viennese Culture in 1900: Bridging the Divide
By and large, the historiography of Austrian Jews, but also generally all Central European Jews in the 19th and 20th centuries, is characterized by a one-sided perspective. It primarily traces entry by Jews into the ‘middle-class’ and the adoption of societally prevalent cultural standards, which can be classified as belonging to high culture (Storey 32–47). This narrative found its paradigmatic expression in Steven Beller’s book, Vienna and the Jews, in which he describes Jews’ contributions to high culture. Beller’s outstanding publication explains the reasons for the large share of Jews among the producers of Viennese fin-de-siècle culture. It is rightly considered to be a standard work on Austrian Jewry at the turn of the 20th century. Yet in his book the cultural articulations of everyday life have been omitted and references to popular culture are missing. Beller’s book gives the impression that Jews had nothing to do with the distractions and amusement of popular culture. The vast majority of other publications regarding the history of Austrian Jews also deal exclusively with high culture, that is, when they address cultural activities at all.1
There are only very few isolated works that focus on Jews in Viennese popular culture. Almost all of them deal with the field of music. Yet, they are largely ignored by historians of Viennese Jewry. These immensely insightful but widely neglected publications include, above all, works on Jewish Volkssänger and musicians of Wienerlieder as well as on Jargon theatres.2 Besides, a...
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