“This is Jimmy Berg from New York:” Dreams, Expectations, and Reality

"This is Jimmy Berg from New York:" Dreams, Expectations and Reality

By Julia-Katharina Neier

Jimmy Berg was born in 1909 in Kolomea as Symson Weinberg. He was a musician, composer, lyricist and journalist. In 1938 he had to flee from Austria because of his Jewish origins and his work in the communism-related cabaret theatre group ABC. Thanks to an affidavit of the industrialist Otto Eisenschimmel Berg was able to enter the US via Southampton on the S.S. Manhattan on November 24,1938.

“This is Jimmy Berg from New York:” Dreams, Expectations, and Reality2022-08-25T15:01:43+00:00

Rosa Wien: Gay Rights, Schlager and Self-Exile: 1918-1938

Rosa Wien: Gay Rights, Schlager and Self-Exile: 1918-1938

By Casey J. Hayes

So…What comes to mind when you hear the word “Cabaret”? Perhaps…Liza Minelli? Yet, however historically accurate this depiction of the 1920s Weimar Berlin cabaret scene may be (I doubt they had Liza or Bob Fosse) it was a more reserved cabaret culture that developed within the Austrian capitol; more quick conversation, jokes, political statements, and sentimental chansons; less drag queens and spectacle. It would have, I believe, looked much more accessible to the conservative Viennese and less like the pages from a Christopher Isherwood novel. Yet, there are many historical yet little-known events that played out at the intersection of the struggle for civil rights for western society’s gay communities, the National Socialist’s persecution of homosexuals, and the fate of some of Europe’s greatest performing artists self-exiled in Vienna. The wildly hedonistic world of German-speaking Cabaret would be the backdrop for a collision which resulted in the ultimate elimination of the art of the “Kleinkunstbuhne” throughout Central Europe.

Rosa Wien: Gay Rights, Schlager and Self-Exile: 1918-19382022-08-25T15:01:48+00:00

Atom Splitting / Atomzertrümmerung: Austrian Manhattan Project Scientist Otto Robert Frisch in Los Alamos, 1943-1945

Atom Splitting /Atomzertrümmerung: Austrian Manhattan Project Scientist Otto Robert Frisch in Los Alamos, 1943-1945

By Kristina Poznan

The U.S. government’s World War II Manhattan Project benefitted from the work of several scientists born in Austria-Hungary, from physicists to chemists to mathematicians. Elizabeth Rona, Leó Szilárd, Edward Teller, John von Neumann,[1] and Eugene Wigner were all from Budapest, George Placzek from Brno, and Stanislaw Ulam from Lviv. Among those born in Vienna were Victor F. Weisskopf and, most significantly for our purposes, Otto Robert Frisch.

Frisch arrived in the United States to work on “Project Y” in Los Alamos in1943 as part of “British Mission” cohort of scientists (Frisch had hurriedly been made a British citizen to participate). Frisch’s scientific work had already taken him from Vienna to Germany, Denmark, and England before the United States, including the laboratory of his renowned aunt, Lise Meitner, with whom he theorized the fission of uranium. Although Frisch returned to Europe in 1946 after the war, his three years in New Mexico are indicative of a wide contribution of Austro-Hungarian scientific training to Allied victory in World War II.

Atom Splitting / Atomzertrümmerung: Austrian Manhattan Project Scientist Otto Robert Frisch in Los Alamos, 1943-19452022-08-25T15:02:37+00:00

Raptured and demonized: Josephine Baker in Vienna

Raptured and demonized: Josephine Baker in Vienna

By Mona Horncastle

In 1928, after two successful years in Paris, Baker starts her first tour of Europe with great expectations. Yet her victories are always accompanied by controversy. In Vienna, the first stop on her journey, Baker is omnipresent: posters advertising her second film La Revue des Revues show the almost naked Baker in pearls and feather jewelry throughout the city. The poster for her revue Black and White is no less revealing. Vienna is not Paris, and the entertainment culture of the Music Hall is still completely foreign to the city, which leads to agitation among cultural conservatives: Catholic circles mobilize before Baker even arrives in Vienna. When her train from Paris arrives, the church bells of the Paulanerkirche are chiming to warn the population of the "Black Devil." However, an unfazed crowd gathers to cheer enthusiastically as Baker arrives on the platform of the train station. The authorities are also ambiguous: on the one hand, Baker is promised police protection for the duration of her stay in Vienna, on the other hand, the Ronacher Theater is not permitted to show the announced revue.

Raptured and demonized: Josephine Baker in Vienna2022-08-25T15:02:52+00:00



"Der Traum von einem Feentempel" - "The dream of a fairytale temple" By Katherine Baber

When, on May 25, 2020, the Salzburg Festival announced it would proceed amid the pandemic, it seemed an act of profound optimism—perhaps not unlike Max Reinhardt's ambition to have a dedicated Festival house, conjured by Hugo von Hofmannstal as a "dream of a fairy temple, in which people from every nation on earth discover each other again." In reality, the Salzburg Festival did become one of the first "deeds of peace" after World War I, and it revived itself as a cultural peace project after World War II. Now in 2020, the Festival Direktorium has dedicated its anniversary edition to the Festival’s original principles, returning to themes of "community, the relationship of the individual to the whole, radical individualism and, as a great hope, the idea that the world can be changed through communal solidarity, through a new humanity."




"Wie sich doch in einem Augenblick mein ganzes Schicksal wendete!" - "How in a moment my whole fate has changed!" By Katherine Baber

Near the end of the first act of Così fan tutte, Dorabella and Fiordiligi are bewildered, mourning the sudden departure of their fiancés for war. They have no idea how much more profoundly their lives are about to be disordered. As the sisters retreat to their garden, Mozart tempers the words of Lorenzo da Ponte’s libretto by casting their duet in a tranquil mood, setting them up to have the rug pulled out from under them moments later in a typically rambunctious finale. What ensues—deception, disguises, loss of innocence, the questioning of love and loyalty—alters all. The couples who are married at the end are fundamentally different people than they were at the beginning. This Italian-style opera buffo is comic, yes, but also cautionary. Mozart might have warned us about 2020.

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