Artists in Exile: How Refugees from Twentieth-Century War by Joseph Horowitz

By Joseph Horowitz

Decades of struggle and revolution in Europe pressured an "intellectual migration" over the past century, moving hundreds of thousands of artists and thinkers to the U.S.. for plenty of of Europe's most suitable appearing artists, the United States proved to be a vacation spot either unusual and opportune.

Featuring the tales of George Balanchine, Kurt Weill, Fritz Lang, Billy Wilder, Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, and so forth, Artists in Exile explores the impression that those recognized newbies had on American tradition, and that the USA had on them.

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Extra resources for Artists in Exile: How Refugees from Twentieth-Century War and Revolution Transformed the American Performing Arts

Sample text

He turned Gluck’s opera into a dance drama, with singers and chorus relegated to the pit. ” The scenery “was made out of chicken wire, cheesecloth, and dead birch branches. . The entire production was conceived without an element of paint. Rather, pigment was actually light. All handprops and scenery were three-dimensional. Backgrounds were impalpable, chosen for their capacity to transmit, reflect, or change light. ”6 The premiere, on May 19, 1936, was received with titters, yawns, and weak applause.

A telegram from the Soviet Union ordered them back. Balanchivadze and five others chose to defect. Some work was found in German resorts, then in a London music hall. They took cheap rooms in Paris with money enough to last two weeks. Another telegram arrived: from Sergey Diaghilev. He urgently needed a choreographer for his Ballets Russes. He had scouted Balanchivadze. He wanted to know if Balanchivadze could work quickly. Balanchivadze said he could. And so, at the age of twenty-one, George Balanchine—as he would now be known—became ballet master for the premier ballet company in the world.

It can grow anywhere. But even a potato has a soil in which it grows best. ”8 *See page 390. 32 ARTISTS IN EXILE And soil implies permanence. ” Kirstein, too, was committed to permanence: a school, a company, a repertoire, an audience, all of it comprising an indigenous American ballet, native to the United States in ways the venerable Metropolitan Opera, in half a century, had never attempted. The Kirstein/ Balanchine School of American Ballet opened on January 1, 1934. Of thirty applicants, twenty-five (of whom twenty-two were female) were accepted—not because of the excellence of their preparation, but because a beginning must begin somewhere.

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