Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Music and the burden of history

Music. Just music. Just music?

Sunday morning at the end of the Eighties - 20th century. Fresh wind coming through my open hotelwindow. Warm spring sun. Listening to easy and mellow music on tape. Watching the gardens and houses in the Mea Shearim neighborhood in Jerusalem (planet Earth). I was not the only one with an open  window.  I heard voices of childeren and adults coming out of the surrounding houses.

I played Marlene Dietrich' 'Ich bin von Kopf bis Fuß auf Liebe eingestellt' (1930) loud. Very loud!  I wanted to give and share. Suddenly I realised where I was. I was in the middle of the most firm and orthodox place of  Jerusalem. Fear. I had a vision of  furious Jews who wanted to lynch me. Playing German World War II music in the middle of jews. How could I! Quickly I put the 'volume down'. For hours I was afraid someone would knock on my door and scream "Lynch him!". Those Others. Nothing happened.

That morning I lost my innocence. That morning I realised music is connected to history. The burden of history. Music is never 'Just music'.

P.s. Many years later I found out that Marlene Dietrich (1901-1992) became an American citizen in 1939 and despised the antisemitism of the Nazi's. In WW II her music was loved by soldiers on both sides of the conflict.

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