Degenerate Music: Music Banned by the Nazis brings together song, visuals and spoken word in an effort to recover the lesser-known works of composers silenced by the Nazi regime.
The show is a reimagining of the infamous Entartete Musik (Degenerate Music) exhibition of 1938, intended by the Nazi government to alert the German public to “inferior and ultimately dangerous” forms of music, particularly jazz and Jewish music. Through bravura interpretations of songs by Hanns Eisler and Bertolt Brecht; Mischa Spoliansky; Kurt Weill and Lion Feuchtwanger; Friedrich Hollaender and Kurt Tucholsky; excerpts from Ernst Krenek's jazz-opera Jonny spielt auf and atonal Schoenberg, the performance highlights the extraordinary range of musical styles unjustly branded as "degenerate", and gives a fascinating insight into the Berlin political cabarets of the Twenties and Thirties. The songs are interspersed with spoken excerpts from the Entartete Musik exhibition pamphlet (1938), whilst video projections show scenes of everyday life during the days of the Weimar Republic.
Since premiering at the 2014 London Song Festival, the show has been featured on BBC Radio, toured the UK and has been presented in Berlin. 2018 saw the concept developed into a fully staged production entitled Effigies of Wickedness, a critically acclaimed collaboration between English National Opera and the Gate Theatre.
Peter Brathwaite, baritone & creator
Peter Brathwaite trained at the Royal College of Music International Opera School and the Flanders Opera Studio, Ghent. Recent roles include Yamadori Madama Butterfly, Marcello La bohème, Luis Katibu di Shon (Nederlandse Reisopera); Elviro Xerxes, Sylvano La Calisto, Kaidama Il furioso all’isola di San Domingo, L’incognito L’assedio di Calais, Schaunard La bohème (English Touring Opera); Customs Officer La bohème, Billy Bone Captain Blood’s Revenge (Glyndebourne on Tour); Nelson Porgy and Bess
(Opéra de Lyon/Edinburgh International Festival); Sid La fanciulla del West (Opera Holland Park); Othello, Sonnet Walks, What You Will (Shakespeare's Globe). He is currently touring his multimedia recital Degenerate Music: Music Banned by the Nazis (London Song Festival/BBC Radio 3/Studio Niculescu Berlin).
Current and future engagements include Feldspar Fogonogo (Spitalfields Winter Festival/Elbphilharmonie Hamburg/Luxembourg Philharmonie/Danish National Opera); Papageno Die Zauberflöte (Soho Theatre/UK tour); Effigies of Wickedness (English National Opera/The Gate Theatre) and his debut at La Monnaie Brussels.
Nigel Foster, piano
Nigel Foster studied at the Royal Academy of Music and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where he won every prize and award available for piano accompaniment. In 2015 Nigel was appointed a Steinway Artist. He played with conductors including John Eliot Gardiner and Georg Solti and is the founder, director and pianist of the London Song Festival www.londonsongfestival.org. He has broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and Classic FM and performs extensively abroad, having played in most European countries, New Zealand, Japan, Malaysia, Israel, the USA, Canada and South America.
James Symonds, video projections
James Symonds has a degree in Visual Arts from the Camberwell College of Arts and a Masters Degree in Graphic Moving Image. Under the guise of Symian, he mixes digital filmmaking, sound production, programming and 3D design to produce large format exhibition work, theatre staging and ‘live’ visual events for companies including Mambo International, the Co-operative Group and Ahh.... Arts Igniting Minds. Recent collaborations include ‘Premieres Plus’ with Carlos Acosta (London Coliseum & The Lowry), ‘Sleeping Beauty’ and ‘Grimm Pickings’ (De La Warr Pavilion].
English National Opera/Gate Theatre collaboration, London, UK
Chelsea Arts Club, London, UK
BBC Radio 3 In Tune, Live from Maida Vale, London, UK
Schubert Society of Great Britain, London, UK
Studio Niculescu, Berlin, Germany
Jewish Cultural Centre (JW3), London, UK
BareLit Festival, London, UK
Manchester Jewish Museum, Manchester, UK
BBC Radio 5 Live (Live Studio Performance), UK
Alderney Performing Arts Festival, Channel Islands, UK
London Song Festival, London, UK
"The Nazi campaign against so-called ‘degenerate music’, saw works by such composers as Weill, Schoenberg and Hindemith denounced and suppressed. More than 70 years later, much of this music is still unknown. Baritone Peter Brathwaite on his mission to bring it to a new audience."
"Recital to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day"
"Degenerate Music" featured in Italian newspaper La Repubblica.
"Brathwaite brings the pieces alive by acting his way through every note and phrase"
"Not your average concert"
"Recital explores forbidden music in mesmerising fashion"