Among the more inspiring musical revelations of recent years has been the rediscovery of so-called entartete Musik (“degenerate music”), the works of composers banned by the Nazis. An exhibit in Düsseldorf in 1988, commemorating one mounted fifty years before by the Nazis was the revival’s catalyst. Shortly thereafter, the Decca Record Company began a series of recordings, and now the term entartete Musik has become an artistic badge of honor, as is frequently the custom these days with former terms of abuse.

In 1994, Decca released a recording of an opera titled Der Kaiser von Atlantis, a blatantly political fantasia in which a mad emperor (the kaiser of the title) attempts to wage total war, an act that infuriates a personified death, who then ironically thwarts the emperor’s plans. The composer was Viktor Ullmann, a Czech Jew, who though by no means among the most famous musicians...


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