Entartete Musik (‘degenerate music’) was the term applied to music in Germany after 1933 (when Hitler became Chancellor) that did not fulfil the expectations of culture according to Joseph Goebbels and the Nazi party. The most ‘Entartete’ instrument of all was the saxophone, with its strong link to jazz and Afro-American culture, and various composers – many of them Jewish – who were not in line with anti-Semitic and Arian ideas found themselves in an impossible position with regard to art and life alike. Some, such as Bernard Heiden, managed to escape; some, such as Ernst-Lothar von Knorr, used their connections to survive in Nazi society. Among the less fortunate was Erwin Shulhoff, who died in a concentration camp in 1942.
This project, then, brings together the works of a variety of composers who shared the same struggle to express themselves under a regime determined to stifle their work. From the playful and parodic work of Paul Dessau to Shulhoff’s bold and biting Hot-Sonate, Entartete Musik is a new look at European history during some of its most difficult years. The works are performed by the internationally acclaimed Duo Disecheis (David Brutti: saxophone, Filippo Farinelli: piano), regulars at festivals and concert halls the world over.