munich

Allora & Calzadilla

Haus der Kunst

Milan Kundera once paraphrased Marx: “Optimism is the opium of the people.” As the twentieth century has shown us, there is a fine line between jubilation and the eruption of violence—above all when there’s musical accompaniment. In Europe, no melody has been used and abused to produce a spirit of optimism more than the “Ode to Joy” from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, a favorite of both Hitler and Stalin, masters of mass seduction. Under the direction of Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla, this anthem sounded again at Munich’s Haus der Kunst, which was built by the Nazis as the Haus der deutschen Kunst (House of German Art). This time no one rose in jubilation. The audience looked down, uncomfortably, as a grand piano glided through the room producing a somewhat discordant, but still recognizable, rendition of the melody. The sound came out of a round hole that had been cut in the center

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