Music, University of Birmingham
My thesis explores how operas that can be categorised as ‘expressionist’ were received in Weimar culture. Studies that associate opera with expressionism are currently limited, so in order for me to be able to define what makes an opera ‘expressionist’, my research will first explore the characteristics of expressionist art, theatre, and music from before the war. By drawing upon the aesthetics of pre-war expressionism, my thesis will provide a framework that can be used to identify expressionist traits in opera.
A lot of operas that can be recognised as bearing expressionist traits were not premiered until after the war, when expressionism was beginning to be seen as outdated. Nevertheless, a number of expressionist-style operas were premiered in the Weimar Republic, a period which is often characterised by anti-expressionist movements such as the New Objectivity. The second part of my research, therefore, will explore how operas bearing expressionist traits – particularly those by Hindemith, Berg, Weill, and Krenek – were received in the diverse cultural landscape of the Weimar Republic.
As well as improving our understanding of opera’s relationship to expressionism, my research will add to the growing output of scholarship on Weimar culture and further highlight the diversity of style within the arts during this period.