Theses Doctoral

European Echoes: Jazz Experimentalism in Germany, 1950-1975

Kisiedu, Harald

"European Echoes: Jazz Experimentalism in Germany, 1950-1975" is a historical and interpretive study of jazz and improvised music in West and East Germany. "European Echoes" illuminates an important period in German jazz whose beginnings are commonly associated with the notion of Die Emanzipation ("The Emancipation"). Standard narratives of this period have portrayed Die Emanzipation as a process in which mid-1960s European jazz musicians came into their own by severing ties of influence to their African American musical forebears. I complicate this framing by arguing that engagement with black musical methods, concepts, and practices remained significant to the early years of German jazz experimentalism. Through a combination of oral histories, press reception, sound recordings, and archival research, I elucidate how local transpositions and adaptations of black musical methods, concepts, and practices in post-war Germany helped to create a prime site for contesting definitions of cultural, national, and ethnic identities across Europe. Using a case study approach, I focus on the lives and works of five of the foremost German jazz experimentalists: multi-reedist Peter Brötzmann, trumpeter and composer Manfred Schoof, pianist and composer Alexander von Schlippenbach, multi-reedist Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky, and pianist Ulrich Gumpert. Furthermore, I discuss new music composer Bernd Alois Zimmermann's sustained engagement with African American musical forms in addition to the significance of both Schoof's and Schlippenbach's studies and various collaborations with him. The elucidation of the German jazz experimentalism movement is situated within the larger context of ther Cold War's competing West German capitalist and East German state socialist political systems and shows how music became a form of international politics and cultural diplomacy.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Lewis, George E.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
October 10, 2014