Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Bauhaus lives on


Important article about the Bauhaus design school in yesterday's Guardian . The Bauhaus in Dessau was closed by the Nazis in 1932. Four years earlier the architect Walter Gropius had resigned, choosing to work outside Germany. In 1935 Gropius designed the building in East Anglia seen in my header photo. It is Impington Village College in Cambridgeshire, which was a design collabaration between Gropius and Maxwell Fry. It was Gropius' only major UK commission, and the Village College is still in use today. Gropius married Alma Mahler, widow of Gustav Mahler, in 1915. Their daughter Manon died of polio aged eighteen, and composer Alban Berg wrote his Violin Concerto in memory of her. Gropius and Alma Mahler were divorced in 1920.

The Bauhaus zeitgeist also found refuge in Dartington in Devon. Here the headmaster's house for the progrssive Dartington Hall School, seen in the lower photo, was designed by William Lescaze in the Bauhaus style, and the Ballets Joos from Essen performed in Dartington after they were banished from Germany in 1934. The Bauhaus vision of a creative community working for the greater good lived on in Dartington after the Second World War. The music summer school at Dartington was run by William Glock in the 1950s and attracted great creative spirits ranging from Igor Stravinsky, through Bruno Maderna to Elisabeth Lutyens. The header photo in my recent article Walking with Stravinky, shows Lutyens and Stravinsky together at Dartington.

First performances in the UK, and sometimes in the world, given at Dartington included Elliott Carter's First and Second String Quartets, Boulez's Le Marteau sans maître, Sonatina for flute and piano, and Improvisation on 'Une dentelle s'abolit', Peter Maxwell Davies' Sextet, Luigi Nono's Polifonica-monodia-ritmica, Stefan Wolfe's Quartet for oboe, cello, percussion and piano, and Stockhausen's Zeitmasse and Kontapunkte. And those last works remind us that Dartington ran parallel to that other great music summer school, Darmstadt.

Wliiliam Glock's policy of embracing, rather than fearing, the new continued when he became Controller of Music at the BBC in 1959. His work with Pierre Boulez and others proved that new music has as much to say to audiences as the music of Beethoven et al. This thinking was continued at the BBC by Sir Robert Ponsonby. But, alas, in the years after Ponsonby reactionary forces came to the fore in musical Britain, just as they did in Dessau in 1932.


More unlikely cultural migration here.
The exhibition Bauhaus 1919-1933 is at Mima, Middlesborough to Feb 17 2007. Header photo credit Cambridge2000, but the non-Bauhaus rubbish bin was removed by me. Lower photo from HughPearman.com. Any copyrighted material on these pages is included as "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Report broken links, missing images and errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk

1 comment:

Pliable said...

Email received:

In case you would be interested in Mahler / Gropius and Alma: there’s a good book on that story written by French journalist Françoise Giroud.

Françoise Giroud : http://www.denistouret.net/textes/Giroud_Francoise.html

The book : http://www.amazon.ca/Alma-mahler-Fran%C3%A7oise-Giroud/dp/images/2266029819

Bernard