News Item

Recovered Voices:  Staging Suppressed Opera of the Early 20th Century

09 29, 2009

A Conference Co-Sponsored by the
UCLA Center for Jewish Studies and
The OREL Foundation
April 7 and 8, 2010 • Royce Hall • UCLA

The Nazi regime was not only responsible for the destruction of millions of lives, but also for the suppression of countless works of art, literature, and music.  These works, grotesquely termed “degenerate art” by the Nazis, were banned, and the artists, Jewish and non-Jewish, were branded enemies of the state. Thousands were murdered, some went into hiding, and some escaped. But even many of the “fortunate” ones were ruined by the trauma.  Although by now this is a well-known story, it continues to unfold in its tragic details, and we are only beginning to truly understand the enormity of the loss. 

The work of the historian is not only to document this loss; we can also make some small contribution to undoing this terrible story: forgotten artists and composers can be brought back to public attention, lost masterpieces can be retrieved.  And great music can be heard again and enter into its rightful place as part of the repertory.

Conference Overview

This conference, organized by UCLA Professor Kenneth Reinhard, is co-sponsored by the UCLA Center for Jewish Studies and The OREL Foundation and is inspired by the work of James Conlon and Los Angeles Opera's “Recovered Voices” project, an ongoing commitment to stage masterpieces of 20th-century European opera that were suppressed by the Third Reich.  LA Opera’s project has richly demonstrated that an enormous amount of this music—much of it by composers little known or unknown in America—is not only worthy of retrieval from the abyss of historical circumstances, but, by any standard, is great and capable of speaking to us urgently and eloquently today. 

The conference will feature two days of talks and presentations by major scholars from the US and Europe.  Scholars such as David Levin, Christopher Hailey, Albrecht Dümling, Ryan Minor, Peter Franklin, Mladen Dolar, Michael Beckerman, Michael Haas and Slavoj Zizek (among others) will present lectures on various aspects of the cultural history and musical importance of composers such as Franz Schreker, Viktor Ullmann, Erwin Schulhoff, and Alexander Zemlinsky.  The music and circumstances of other composers, whose names are more familiar to us—Arnold Schoenberg, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, for example—will also be examined.

Each day will culminate with a special public evening event.  On Wednesday evening, April 7, pianist and conductor Jeffrey Kahane will perform an all-Schulhoff chamber music program with violinist Daniel Hope in a concert curated by Mr. Kahane, which will also feature several members of The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra.  The second day of the conference, April 8, will conclude in the evening with a keynote presentation by James Conlon, Music Director of Los Angeles Opera. 

We expect a large audience for the conference, including international press in attendance for the American premiere of Franz Schreker's Die Gezeichneten, which will take place, under Maestro Conlon's direction, on the evening of Saturday, April 10.  The conference organizers hope to arrange for discounted tickets for conference attendees to attend this opera, and registrants are heartily encouraged to include this performance in their travel plans. [Fans of Wagner's Ring may also wish to attend the Sunday, April 11, matinee performance of “Götterdämmerung,” also to be conducted by Maestro Conlon.]

Registration and Other Details

There will be no fee required to attend the conference or to attend either of the evening events, though advance registration will be required.  Due to space restrictions, it may become necessary to limit the number of registrations; in that event, registrations will be handled on a first-submitted, first-served basis.

To register, and for information concerning housing, meals, etc, as well as detailed program information, visit The OREL Foundation web site and click on the conference link on the home page.