Maschinist Hopkins (in two volumes with German and English libretto)
(b. Lemberg, 26. April 1896 – d. Langenzerdorf, 5. April 1980)
Maschinist Hopkins (1927–1928, first performance 1929 in Duisburg) like many other challenging works of the twentieth century, is more talked about than heard or understood. Indeed, in the current telling of modern musical history, Maschinist Hopkins has been given a largely metonymic relation to both the aesthetic excesses of the 1920s in general and genre of Zeitoper in particular. This is the end to which it is described in Alex Ross‘s The Rest Is Noise, using a pithy, if significantly misleading, summary from Nicolas Slonimsky. To say that Maschinist Hopkins is a trendy romp through the decadent 1920s is like saying that the Marquis de Sade was a disaffected Enlightenment epigone: it conflates the generalised spirit of an age for its brutal negation.
Of course, this greatly shortchanges the complexity and nuance of this work as well as writing off its musical content as a litany of „popular forms“ sampled by „serious“ composers: jazz, fox-trot, swing, etc. On dramatic grounds alone, the work is unique among the Zeitopern due to its totally unremitting bleakness. The modernity of Maschinist Hopkins is the negative mirror-image of that in Jonny Spielt Auf: Krenek‘s optimism of the „new world“ taking over the old is here replaced by a mercilessly efficient technological behemoth – the Moloch of Fritz Lang‘s Metropolis – which exists to annihilate human life and culture. While many other works in the genre gently poke fun at „trendiness“ – such as Schoneberg‘s Von Heute auf Morgen and several of Hindemith‘s offerings – no other work depicted an existence so utterly subsumed by mechanical logic that quotidian human relationships become pathological exercises of money and power. …
Read full preface > HERE
210 x 297 mm