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Kira Thurman, ‘Singing Schubert, Hearing Race: Black Concert Singers and the German Lied in Interwar Central Europe’
March 3, 2019 at 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm
This presentation explores the rise in popularity of African American classical musicians in interwar Germany and Austria. Singing Lieder by Schubert, Brahms and others, they challenged audiences’ expectations of what a black performer looked and sounded like in the transatlantic ‘jazz age.’ Audiences labeled the singers ‘negroes with white souls,’ and marveled at their musical mastery. If the listener closed his or her eyes and listened, these African American musicians, many remarked, ‘sounded like Germans.’ By exploring Austrian and German reception of black singers, the presentation finds a new way to answer the question, ‘Can someone be black and German?’ by instead asking another: ‘What has it meant to be black and perform German music?’
This seminar is part of the NC German Studies Seminar & Workshop Series.