Music and Heroisation in the Mauthausen Liberation Celebrations
New Perspectives on Holocaust Remembrance and Commemoration in Austria
Keywords:Holocausts remembrance, music, Mauthausen, celebration ceremonies, heroisations
This article reconstructs the role of heroisation in the context of coming to terms with the Holocaust. It does so by looking at verbal discourse and music in the context of Holocaust remembrance in the years around the turn of the millennium. It focusses on two compositions that were premiered during the annual liberation celebrations at the Mauthausen concentration camp memorial site: Helmut Rogl’s Memento (1995) and Helmut Schmidinger’s Drei Momente – über Motive aus dem Lied ‘Die Moorsoldaten’ (2005). The focus on musical works results from the fact that music – sound events, texts set to music, explanations in programme notes, and its performance contexts – is well suited for researching heroic ideas. This is so because, since the Baroque period, music has served as ‘accompaniment’ for events with a heroic character, and listeners ascribe a ‘heroic expression’ to some musical styles. On this basis, the article shows that heroic thinking has always played a complex role in the Holocaust, ranging from auto-psychotherapy to the formation of moral identity to the propaganda of political ideologies, albeit the latter is to be distinguished from the actual confrontation with the murder of the European Jews.
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