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Israel Sahaks Kulturkampf in KOL ISRAEL

 

Die Homepage enthält auf einer Audio-Spur einen kleinen Ausschnitt (ca. 9 Minuten - wav - 92MB) aus einer Sendung in KOL ISRAEL, dem israelischen Rundfunk, mit Israel Shahak als Gast. Er hat ein paar eigene CDs mit klassischer Musik mitgebracht und verknüpft in der zweimal ausgestrahlten Sendung mit der ihm eigenen Eloquenz Musik mit dem jeweiligen gesellschaftlichen Zeitgeist und mit Politik. Die folgenden Sätze aus unserem Briefwechsel machen deutlich, um was es ihm dabei ging:

 

Israel Shahak an H. Spehl

22. September 1997

 ... Let me get out of this topic and tell you, "con amore" as Italians say, about my radio program "politics in classical music". This was part of a monthly program called "my concert" on radio channel devoted to classical music, in which individuals appear with their own CDs and play them while adding comments. It takes more than 90 minutes. I included three subjects under a general heading of "music anticipating social changes": 1. Living in two cultures at the same time. 2. Changed status of women. 3. Need of fighting for positive ends. Except one piece, the last part of symphony 39 by Haydn, all the works were vocal, so that the listeners would grasp better and I explained and if necessary read and translated the words and emphasised especially the instrumentation.  

On the first subject I played from two works by Bach. From Cantata No. 201 "Der Streit zwischen Phoebus and Pan", after telling the story how the cantata was self-defence by Bach against new "easy" style symbolised by Pan, I read the text and played the great aria by Phoebus with whom quite obviously Bach identifies, and pointed out that the text describes homosexual  love of Phoebus to Hyazinth. Of course, the pious Lutheran Bach with two wives and 17 children was not a homosexual, but he and his listeners were able, so I said, to dissociate themselves for a time from a culture in which they lived and accept, at least during the performance the values of ancient Greek culture as being valid. I added that we in Israel are still not able to be as liberal as were people in Leipzig in the 1730s! I then played from Cantata No. 208, "Jagdkantate", the aria "Schafe können sicher weiden" and pointed out that it is supposed to be sung by the Roman god Pales and it is he who promises this benefit to the prince Christian on his accession, drawing the same conclusions. I also played other parts of this cantata. Then I went to Händel's Oratorio "L'Allegro et Il Penseroso" and pointed out that the sad protagonist is religious while the joyful is not, and played aria with chorus in praise of laughter and jokes "Came o nymph" and another in praise of mirth to the text (which I read) "These delights if thou should give, mirth with thee I choose to live", commenting that this is a heroic piece, sung to trumpets and timpani. To be joyful is a heroic quality.

Then I gave two pieces from Mozart. The first was the appearance of the monster from the end of the second act of Idomeneo, where I pointed out that in spite of the noise we hear when the monster appears it is made by the four horns playing separately. The trumpets and drums are withheld, and accompany the following recitative of Idomeneo in which he defies the god and refuses to sacrifice an innocent victim. I then went to the ball scene at the end of the first act of  Don Giovanni where I had pointed out that the great emphasis given to "Viva la Liberta" quintet, also in its orchestration, during the time when French Revolution was taking place, must have meant to section of audience something more than Don Giovanni's own liberty, adding that Leporello proclaims that the ball "is open to everybody; Viva la Liberta!" not only to aristocrats. I also enlarged on the rape of a peasant girl being taken as a serious crime in the context. I finished this section with the last part of symphony 39 by Haydn (to which, incidentally, I am very much attached) as an example of musical "Sturm und Drang" which occurred before the literary one.

On my second subject I first talked a little about the usual role of a woman in Mozart operas as an example of opera before French Revolution, because they are very well known in Israel, pointing out that initiative and active heroism is reserved for the male roles. Then I gave contrary examples from Medea by Cherubini written in 1797 and Italian women in Algeria where the heroine organises and leads a slave-rebellion, but devoted most time to analysis of Fidelio (Beethoven was, on purpose, left for the end) in this respect. I read some of the text, and translated, of the recitative and aria (first act) "Abscheulicher! Wo eilst du hin?" and explained Beethoven's emphasis on the words "Ich folgt dem innern Triebe" and especially on his repetition of "Ich", unthinkable in former kind of opera for a woman role, and, of course, the heroic orchestration. Then I passed to the quarter (second act) "Er sterbe!" in which Leonore first reveals herself as a woman and then pulls a revolver at Pizarro. I have especially emphasised how Beethoven almost stills the orchestra so that Leonore's words "und du bist tot" be heard clearly and immediately there appears the famous trumpet call used in his Leonore overtures.

Finally, I gave the "dona nobis pacem" section from Beethoven's Missa Solemnis (in the classical Klemperer recording) and pointed out that it exhorts to a fight for peace and not to a mere asking or desiring it. It was the only time that my editor who was very friendly during the program (we also remained friends) opposed me in a semi-pacifistic spirit, but I stood my ground, since I really believe in my interpretation.

The program was an enormous success. More than 1000 calls and faxes congratulating me and the radio were received and, in addition, others contacted me. For months I was stopped on the street by people quite unknown to me who congratulated me on that program. Since I don't believe in excessive humility, but on the contrary I think that a proper pride in one's achievement is a good thing I enjoyed it all very much.

 

Israel Shahak an H. Spehl

24. Oktober 1997

  .... I am glad that I am able to send you "my concert" as my program in KOL ISRAEL is called. When it was given in 1996 I made a mistake in recording it and half of it was spoiled. But, on the request of the hearers the program has been repeated on 21 October [1997], and this time I recorded it well and made dubbings. I had to record it not on my best music player, since this is solely devoted to CDs but on old things, so I apologise for the quality of the music, but you will recognise what my intentions were. Incidentally, in my September 22 letter, I had omitted a few of my choices for the sake of brevity. Here I append all of them in the order they appear. 1. Tenor aria from third act of Tosca by Puccini (this I gave, frankly "to catch" the less-elevated part of the audience, but I explained that in the libretto it is sung after Cavaradossi refuses the offer of a priest to make confession before execution and writes a love letter instead, which is the aria. My host, who was very sympathetic to me, called it "an opening shot of a humanist" and he was right.) 2. and 3. Bach, from cantatas no. 201 and 208. 4. and 5. from Händel's "L’Allegro et il Penseroso" in praise of laughter and joy in general. 6. Mozart, from Don Giovanni. 7. Mozart, from Idomeneo, the scene where the monster appears. 7. Haydn, finale of symphony no. 39. 8. Cherubini, duet from Medea. 9. Rossini, scene from Italian woman in Algiers, the heroine as a leader of rebellion of male slaves. 10., 11. and 12. Beethoven, three numbers from Fidelio. 13. Beethoven again. “Dona Nobis Pacem” from Missa Solemnis. Incidentally, my last words were a translation of what Beethoven wrote on this work: "It came from the heart; I hope that it will enter the heart".  

Of course, I am very devoted also to other kinds of music, but this program was a minor battle in our Kulturkampf - as my host and those who congratulated me understood very well. Therefore you will understand that although I am very devoted to all the pieces I gave, they were chosen over other, also admirable music, for a political purpose...

Die vorliegende CD enthält Israel Shahaks “opening shot of a humanist” über die Tenor-Arie aus dem 3. Akt von Tosca (ich habe wegen der schlechten Tonqualität die Musik nach ein paar Takten ausgeblendet) und seine “politische” Interpretation der Kantate 201 von Johann Sebastian Bach.

Das Gespräch in KOL ISRAEL wurde auf Hebräisch geführt. Aber wer möchte, so denke ich im Stillen, nicht wenigstens auch einmal die Stimme des “vielleicht letzten Propheten” gehört haben, der tauben Ohren gepredigt hat wie alle großen Propheten?

Ein paar Worte über den Verlauf der Radiosendung mögen immerhin die Phantasie beflügeln. Dani Ozav, der Moderator des monatlichen Programms “Mein Konzert”, begrüßt zunächst seine Hörer, und dann den heutigen Gast:

Moderator: Schalom, Professor Israel Shahak.

Shahak: Schalom. Israel, oder Israel Shahak, genügt. Auf den Professor wollen wir verzichten, zumal es hier um Musik geht.

Moderator: Professor für welches Fach?

Shahak: Organische Chemie.

Moderator: Und wie hängt Musik und Organische Chemie zusammen?

Shahak: Musik muß in die Seele eines jeden Menschen dringen, sei er Professor oder Bauarbeiter. Auch ich war einmal Bauarbeiter.

Moderator: Und wie wirkt Musik im Körper und in der Seele?

Shahak: Das wird der Punkt sein, auf den es in meiner Sendung ankommt.

Moderator: Würden Sie Ihr Programm erläutern?

Shahak: Musik ist, meiner Meinung nach, ein Ausfluß der Gesellschaft. Man sollte sie nicht einem musikalischen Ghetto überlassen. Musik bewirkt fast immer – vielleicht sogar immer – gesellschaftliche Veränderungen. Deshalb habe ich meinem Programm den Titel “Die Musik und die Gesellschaft” gegeben. Und ich möchte in dieser Sendung zeigen, daß sie tatsächlich gesellschaftliche Veränderungen hervorruft. Das gilt, so meine ich, sowohl für Kammermusik, für Instrumentalmusik und für Vokalmusik. Zwei so grundverschiedene Musiker wie Mahler und Tschaikowsky waren der Meinung, daß noch in der kleinsten Note Beethovenscher Musik eine Bedeutung steckt. Und ich stimme dem zu. 

Am einfachsten sei dies an Hand von Opern- und Liedertexten deutlich zu machen, fährt Israel Shahak fort, und deshalb beginnt er sein Kulturkampf-Programm mit einer Arie aus dem Dritten Akt der Oper Tosca von Puccini. Der zum Tode verurteilte Caravadossi lehnt es ab, vor seiner Hinrichtung die Beichte abzulegen und schreibt statt dessen einen Liebesbrief. Die Küsse seiner Geliebten sind ihm wichtiger als sein Seelenheil. Und Israel Shahak gibt seinen israelischen Hörern einen Fingerzeig: “Die Szene hat keinerlei Skandal hervorgerufen. In einer katholischen Gesellschaft wie der in Rom des Neunzehnten Jahrhunderts war es erlaubt, im Operngeschehen Partei zu ergreifen...”

 

Als Außenstehender muß man Israel Shahaks “Jewish History, Jewish Religion. The Weight of Three Thousand Years”, und “Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel” gelesen haben, um heraushören zu können, daß er sagen will, noch 100 Jahre später sei dies in Israel, ohne einen Skandal heraufzubeschwören, kaum möglich.

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Die Audio-Datei “Shahak in KOL ISRAEL” kann mit einem Doppelklick auf das Audio-Symbol geöffnet werden, sofern der Computer über eine Audio-Software verfügt (z. B. Microsoft Media Player).

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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