Under Nazi auspices, surprising as it now seems and surprising as it certainly was to Blacher at the time, a performance of his Capriccio for Orchestra was played in Berlin in 1935. It brought him attention as well as the first of many reviews that would pillory him as degenerate, corrupted by Stravinsky, Kurt Weill, and jazz, coldly intellectual, and undeutsch. Nonetheless, in 1937 the Berlin Philharmonic under Carl Schuricht programmed Concertante Musik, a ten-minute sparkler that is Blacher's most-played piece after the Paganini Variations. Because the Philharmonic, unused to playing new music, had trouble with Blacher's rhythmic irregularities, the performance was a mess, and Schuricht decided to repeat the piece. The story that got around, however, was that the encore was in response to the enthusiasm of the audience, whose reception was in fact very friendly, and as a result the Concertante Musik was repeated in severalimportant German cities.
That premiere should have been the turning point of Blacher's career, but it was not a time in which he could consolidate this, his first great success. It had taken courage for Schuricht to program the piece at all inasmuch as Blacher, in the six or seven years since his music had begun to be heard in Germany, was beginning to gain a reputation as a dangerous radical. His position was strange. His music was neither proscribed nor officially designated as entartet (degenerate) or as an example of Kulturbolschewismus, but it was accounted "unwelcome." It was performed, even at such official events as the Reich Music Festival, but it was also pretty consistently attacked for all the reasons that had come up in those first reviews of the Capriccio.
GO BACK TO Carl Schuricht and his friends