Chapter

‘Sympathie mit dem Tode’: Thomas Mann, Hans Pfitzner, and the further reflections of a non-political man

Nicholas Attfield

in Challenging the Modern

Published by British Academy

Published in print September 2017 | ISBN: 9780197266137
Published online May 2018 | e-ISBN: 9780191865206 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5871/bacad/9780197266137.003.0003

Series: British Academy Monographs Series

‘Sympathie mit dem Tode’: Thomas Mann, Hans Pfitzner, and the further reflections of a non-political man

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Perhaps the most infamous of the Weimar musical ‘anti-modernists’, Hans Pfitzner is well known for his polemics against Paul Bekker and Busoni and his opera Palestrina, products of the First World War’s end. Pfitzner’s relationship with Thomas Mann has also been discussed, particularly in terms of Mann’s description, in his Reflections of a Nonpolitical Man, of Pfitzner as the bearer of ‘sympathy with death’. As this chapter details, Mann’s early post-war work situated Pfitzner at the heart of a drive for revival, based around the ‘Hans Pfitzner Association for German Composition’, and linked to Mann’s idiosyncratic notions of cultural-political ‘synthesis’ and Humanität. This revival provoked Pfitzner’s swerve from opera towards the more direct public form of the cantata. Here, in his 1921 work Von deutscher Seele, the allegedly reclusive Pfitzner tried to strike a ‘popular’ tone and seized the moment to address his vision of the entire German nation.

Keywords: Hans Pfitzner; Thomas Mann; sympathy with death; Humanität; Von deutscherSeele; Romantic cantata; Eichendorff

Chapter.  16196 words. 

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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