"The questions raised by your investigation ultimately boil down to something I have often advocated recently (here in the Netherlands, but also in Darmstadt itself during the summer), namely, that the entire history of music (post-World War II) must be rewritten from scratch."



Amsterdam, December 29th, 2010


Dear Mr. Blomann,


Too much traveling and far too much (specialized) reading have repeatedly delayed my reading of your dissertation. Now I've managed it. First of all: I read your book with breathless anticipation. There is an infinite amount of things in it of which I had no idea. It brings forth a wealth of material that I consider somewhat a time bomb under that mountain of lies, hagiographies, and cliques, from which the patina should finally be scraped off. Of the points that your investigation has prompted me to ponder, I will only address a few central ones.

But first:

I only saw K.A. Hartmann once. It must have been shortly before his death; I visited him in Munich to discuss the performance of a piece with him. [...] When we said goodbye, he assured me that he would take care of the piece (I had left him a film reel of the score), but that he would have to go to the hospital soon, a minor issue, not particularly worrying. Then he died, and if he had lived longer, I would have certainly seen this funny and brilliant man again and he could have told me many more things.

Now to Stuckenschmidt: His fluctuations were only vaguely known to me. They never particularly bothered me, as not everyone can be as ascetic and strict as Adorno. From your book, I now see something I didn't know: Stuckenschmidt's role as a Damascus-converted Paul, especially in Darmstadt. It seems that Stuckenschmidt was particularly puristic and orthodox there. The questions raised by your investigation ultimately boil down to something I have often advocated recently (here in the Netherlands, but also in Darmstadt itself during the summer), namely, that the entire history of music (post-World War II) must be rewritten from scratch. The thought occurred to me for the first time when I read Stonor-Saunders' book (Who pays the Piper): there, only the tip of the veil was lifted regarding Darmstadt, but even this made one alert.

I personally knew Stuckenschmidt only slightly. I only noticed that he was always very closed-off and dismissive of my critical comments on the ivory tower of "serial music" or the "Cologne School," and I couldn't make sense of why a "leftist" (which I considered him to be) musician would cease critical thinking before these walls.

Even when I got caught up in the Egk trial in 1969, I could have at least expected vigorous support from him. Prieberg gave it to me, but with Stuckenschmidt there was 'The Great Silence'. Now I know more.

I have also asked myself similar questions about Strobel, whom I - at that time - did not understand how someone who was once a Hindemithian could suddenly mutate into Boulez's guardian angel without anyone asking him critical questions at the time. However, when he (because of a Dutch text) snitched on me back then during Egk, my eyes were opened wide. In newer publications, French historians are investigating more thoroughly the period of the occupation and the role of the German embassy in Paris. Well, maybe they will find out more about Strobel there too... He certainly belongs to that clique of post-war converts (like Wolfgang Fortner), for whom I only know the nice Dutch limerick: "And when they were found again, they were in the resistance". The fact that the so-called "serial" music must have been a welcome refuge for such cliques due to its absolutely anti-worldly impetus becomes clearer to me after reading your book. Again: rewriting music history. Because, even more indirectly clarified by your book, I understand more and more why musicologists and critics in the seventies reacted so allergically, as if stung by a tarantula, to my demands to give priority attention to the social foundations of music in theoretical and historical work (and thus to break open musicology from within). Certainly, that was a time when it was relatively easy for the older generation to accuse us babies of our ML-Mao leanings. However, if we had known then what we know today, we would probably have been able to counterattack more differentiated and purposefully.

This brings us to Hartmann himself: I recognize in his 'vita' many things of my own. Certainly, my generation did not experience the horror of Nazi dictatorship, and therefore not the fate of complete isolation. However, the way left-wing democrats were treated during the post-war restoration period reminds me of the second wave of restoration (since the emergence of neoliberalism) and the sophisticated techniques used to marginalize "leftist" musicians. Where Hartmann feared a second isolation, we feared our first. That is a leaden damper, and Hartmann's fear (his last 20 years or so) is only too understandable. Just as he came to the realization that the Stalinist crimes were not a wrong path but a symptom of Soviet socialism (which was never such, but only the most brutal state capitalism), so it went for us with China in the course of the 1970s. Personally, my eyes were fully opened when I was in North Korea for about 2 weeks in 1979 and also spoke with ministers and high party bosses there: that was pure Stalinism. The questions that arose for me are ultimately the same as those Hartmann asked himself: how can one - after gaining insights into the historical degeneration of socialism - remain a decent democrat and socialist? To what extent can one maintain this standpoint towards the outside world, or must one "capture" it in compositions like the mosquito in amber? There is all the less a conclusive answer, the more Europe - perhaps the whole world - slides to the right and the political class consolidates there.

Again: if, I hope soon, it comes to pass that the gigantic dung heap of the last 50 years is thoroughly turned over, then you can surely find me on your side, and I will not shy away from the necessary self-criticism. So: you have written MORE than just an incredibly exciting book; you have also set a stone rolling with it, which - I hope - will set a lot in motion, even if some people's noses break because of it.


With warm regards,




Konrad Boehmer