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Settling Scores: German Music, Denazification, and the Americans, 1945-1953. By David Monod. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. 2005. Pp. xiv+325. $45.00. ISBN 0-8078-2944-7.

  • Pamela M. Potter (a1)


The impetus among Germany's cultural elite to mark the end of World War II as a “zero hour” has been analyzed mainly as a German phenomenon, with considerably less attention to the role of the occupying forces in fostering that mentality. Settling Scores offers a long-awaited analysis of the American Military Government's precarious navigation in the music world, one of the most sensitive cultural areas for both the conquerors and the conquered. Most histories of twentieth-century German music and culture suffer from a basic misunderstanding of this tumultuous time and uncritically accept many of the prejudices it engendered. As this study demonstrates, the notion of a musical “zero hour” is one such misconception, for the imperfect projects of denazification and reeducation left the musical world of the post-war period largely indistinguishable from its pre-war existence. Based on thorough archival research, interviews with eyewitnesses, and a wide range of literature, this highly readable and engaging history reveals in detail the successes and failures of the Military Government's ambitious agenda to root out the musical “Führers” of the Third Reich and to transform music from a tool of nationalist aggression to one of democratic tolerance.


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