Frühauf on Hirsch, 'Anneliese Landau's Life in Music: Nazi Germany to Émigré California' and Landau and Reinhold, 'Von Berlin nach Los Angeles: Die Musikwissenschaftlerin Anneliese Landau'

Anneliese Landau, Daniela Reinhold
Tina Frühauf

Lily E. Hirsch. Anneliese Landau's Life in Music: Nazi Germany to Émigré California. Rochester: University of Rochester Press, 2019. 246 pp. $99.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-1-58046-951-7.Anneliese Landau, Daniela Reinhold. Von Berlin nach Los Angeles: Die Musikwissenschaftlerin Anneliese Landau. Berlin: Hentrich & Hentrich, 2017. 340 pp. EUR 27.90 (cloth), ISBN 978-3-9556522-6-5

Reviewed by Tina Frühauf (Columbia University and The Graduate Center, CUNY) Published on H-Judaic (November, 2020) Commissioned by Barbara Krawcowicz (Jagiellonian University)

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Toward a New Paradigm: Women Music Scholars in Exile—The Case of Anneliese Landau

The decades between the First World War and the 1960s witnessed the migration of populations numbering in the millions. In the 1930s and 1940s alone, thousands of Jews and political enemies of the regimes that were ruling Europe left the continent to escape oppression and persecution. Among them were women involved in musicological research—a small but significant group. Edith Gerson-Kiwi fled to Palestine via Italy, Brigitte Schiffer ended up in England but stayed many years in Egypt, and Eta Harich-Schneider left for Japan and thereafter moved back and forth between three continents until settling in Austria. Kathi Meyer-Baer, Edith Vogl-Garrett, and others went to the United States. With few exceptions, they faced the triple hurdle of being émigrés, women, and Jews or political enemies, their careers often being compromised and, depending on their environment and connections, taking unforeseen trajectories. Their contributions to the intellectual history of music, however, cannot and should not be underestimated. Nonetheless, the history of scholarship, a branch of research that has gained traction in 2016, has so far paid little attention to their contribution to musicology as a discipline.[1]

In recent years, however, a number of publications emerged that laid the foundations for such a broader project, providing impetus to rethink the canon. Among them is the work by musicologist David S. Josephson on émigré scholars, including women such as Kathi Meyer-Baer.[2] And recently several books were published on the musicologist Anneliese Landau (1903–91)—a somewhat belated reception given German scholars’ interest in Exilforschung since the 1970s and subsequent (re)discoveries of émigré musicians and composers, and music intellectuals. The first publication is Till H. Lorenz’s study (in German) on Landau’s life until 1939;[3] the subsequent two are a German edition of her autobiography and of correspondence in their original languages, along with commentary by Daniela Reinhold, as well as a substantive biography in English by Lily E. Hirsch. All give insight into the life of a dedicated professional involved in the study of music.

Anneliese Landau enrolled in musicology at the Universities of Halle and Berlin, and received her doctorate in 1930 under Arnold Schering with a thesis on the songs of Conradin Kreutzer, which Breitkopf & Härtel published the same year. By then, her scholarly engagement with music had already begun, with an article on Ludwig Stark’s edition of Die schöne Müllerin by Franz Schubert (Zeitschrift für Musikwissenschaft 3 [1928]: 155–59). That year she met Alfred Einstein, editor of the Zeitschrift für Musikwissenschaft, who entrusted her with the compilation of the annual “Internationale Musikalische Zeitschriftenschau” (an index of every article published on music the preceding year) and of the bibliographies in the Bach-Jahrbuch and the Händel-Jahrbuch. She also wrote music reviews for the Vorwärts and other papers. However, getting hired by a newspaper proved difficult, as there were still reservations about the fixed appointment of women as journalists. And for an academic career, she would have needed a Habilitation, the postdoctoral degree required in Germany and a few other European countries to attain a post as a professor in the academy.[4]

After the forced termination of her activities in 1933, Landau continued her work under the auspices of the Jewish Culture League, a segregated performing arts organization established by and for Jews in collaboration with the Nazis. Faced with censorship and fearing deportation, on April 19, 1939, Landau fled to London. In January 1940 she reached New York, where she lived until 1944. But her attempts to find a permanent job as musicologist failed, an ordeal many other émigrés experienced as well. Indexing, an activity close to her heart, was not yet a concern of musicology in America. In 1944 Landau received an offer to become music director of the Jewish Center Association in California. Seizing the opportunity, she moved to Los Angeles and until 1965, built the music department of the Jewish Center Association and its library. She created a lending system for records, organized concerts, gave lectures, and developed an educational program which she later implemented at various adult education centers. However, all these activities could not prevent the Jewish community’s increasingly diminished interest. Landau’s post became a part-time position; she eventually left and began to teach at other institutions. At the age of seventy, she returned to song research, a subject which had always remained close to her heart. In 1980 she published The Lied: The Unfolding of Its Style—her last publication.

The idea behind Daniela Reinhold’s edition of a selection of hitherto unpublished sources was to restore Landau’s name and rank in Germany and its academy, a stature that was hampered by the rise of Nazism. Indeed, autobiography and correspondence are not as available as one might wish. They are part of the Anneliese Landau bequest at the Akademie der Künste Berlin and access is cumbersome: first the family needs to grant permission to access the autobiography, then one needs to be on-site since the manuscript is not available as a scan. That aside, a readership not fluent in English might appreciate a translation. Indeed, this volume is neither conceived as a critical nor complete edition, crossing the general reader–specialized reader threshold. For the music researcher, having these sources available in an edition is especially convenient during a time when many archives remain closed or on limited schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reinhold, a trained musicologist herself, who works at the Akademie der Künste as a research associate and has been in charge of the Landau bequest since it found its home at the Akademie der Künste in 1993, took the initiative to translate, edit, and comment on Landau’s unpublished autobiography of 1987, “Pictures You Want to See: People You Want to Meet” (Anneliese-Landau-Archiv 888), to include selected letters from Rosa Landau to her daughter in exile as well as Landau’s correspondence with composers, and to invite Lily E. Hirsch to contribute a chapter on “Anneliese Landau in Los Angeles” (translated by Lynn Matheson into German).[5] Unfortunately the reader does not learn the exact rationale behind the selections. Why were some letters included and others not? Why is the unpublished memoir, “Bridges to the Past” (typescript, 1970s) not part of the edition? If not the selection itself, Reinhold details her editorial decisions.

The autobiography and the letters were not intended for publication and had not been proofread; they contain redundancies, mental leaps, and erroneous temporal and other references. Furthermore, Landau’s English is not that of a native speaker, containing errors and Germanisms. Therefore, Reinhold opted for “cautious interventions in the text in favor of readability” (p. 15). In a few instances, Reinhold changed the sequence of paragraphs to create a more sensible chronology. Similarly, typographic errors were tacitly corrected. When comparing parts of “Pictures You Want to See” with the German edition, these editorial decisions appear to make perfect sense. They allow for a smooth and easy read, which a critical edition would not have accommodated. The translation itself is well accomplished—not an easy feat given that the original does not have the rhythm and sound of an English native speaker. The commentary (in footnotes and thus conveniently accompanying the text) shows Reinhold’s deep knowledge of the Landau bequest, such as when she references the letters by Greta Durling (summarized and explained in Landau’s own voice), providing their shelf mark in the archival collection (p. 36); and this is not the only instance. Throughout the text, Reinhold continues to provide such references, which prove very helpful for a reader wishing to do further archival research. But given that Reinhold did not opt for a full critical apparatus, scholars will still need to consult the original English manuscript to ensure source-critical work.

The subsequent, first block of correspondence in German, transcribed and compiled by Christiane Niklew, presents excerpts of letters from Rosa Landau to her daughter, of which she sent about one hundred between 1939 and 1942. The snippets were selected based on distinct themes: the status of planned emigration; visits to concerts, theater, and cinema organized by the Jewish Culture League; family and friends. An appendix to Rosa’s letters contains short biographies of individuals from Landau’s circle. Scholars interested in the Jewish Culture League and the role of Landau therein might find value in the chronological list of all mentioned Jewish Culture League events, though it would have been helpful to cross-reference these to the respective passages/letters in which they are mentioned. There is also a short list of films named in the letters, yet again without any cross-references, which would have been even more pertinent in a book without an index.

The second block of correspondence, in English, gives insight into a distinct chapter in Landau’s life: in 1941 she received a grant from the National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods (the women’s affiliate of the Union for Reform Judaism) to produce a study on the topic of Jewish composers and their musical contributions to the modern world (in her autobiography she speaks at great length about this work and its importance for her as a musicologist). For the final chapter, “The Present Day in America,” Landau met with Jewish composers in New York. Those who lived elsewhere received a questionnaire. These were Louis Gruenberg, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Darius Milhaud, Ernst Toch, and Stefan Wolpe, with whom she corresponded in 1942 and 1943. These letters are transcribed in their original language and rendered chronologically. As such this block is valuable for music researchers interested in these composers, their creative process and compositional output in the early 1940s, their views on a “Jewish style” in music, and similar topics—valuable sources that can now be easily harvested by scholars who engage in work on these composers.

Sprinkled in and accompanying the narrative are select reproductions from the Landau bequest: the first page of Landau’s autobiographical typescript (Anneliese-Landau-Archiv 888); the first page of a collection of announcements and reviews of lectures in the Jewish Culture League between 1933 and 1938 (Anneliese-Landau-Archiv 584); a farewell article by Micha Michalowitz in the Jüdisches Nachrichtenblatt of April 14, 1939, in which he honors Landau’s lecturing activity (Anneliese-Landau-Archiv 1054); Landau’s last German passport with exit and entry stamps (Anneliese-Landau-Archiv 919/4); Landau's article “A New Beginning,” published in the Aufbau (Anneliese-Landau-Archiv 413); a title page of the program “Evening of Forbidden Music” (Anneliese-Landau-Archiv 585) and other programs; as well as a photograph (Anneliese-Landau-Archiv 1069) and correspondence (Anneliese-Landau-Archiv 740 and 705). It would have been a nice touch to include a complete list of Landau’s publications (about a dozen), especially in an edition that intends to spur further research. Instead, a chronology of Landau’s life completes the volume.

Why then, if Landau’s autobiography and correspondence are readily available through an anthology of the texts, would one wish for a biography, especially when it is rooted in the very same texts? Lily E. Hirsch’s book of 2019, published by University of Rochester Press, provides the answer. While the author herself sees her endeavor, in part, as corrective of Lorenz’s study (p. xi), it is undoubtedly much more than that. Its twenty-three chapters plus conclusion depart from the spatial structure of Landau’s autobiography (Germany—London—New York—Los Angeles) and do so with finesse. The first part, comprising chapters 1 to 4, tells Landau’s life from childhood to her early career as musicologist working for the press and on the radio in Germany; the second part, that is, chapters 5 to 9, narrates her life and work after the rise of Nazism and ends with her flight to London. Part 3 details her short stay in London as well as her early years in the United States, until 1944 when she leaves New York for Los Angeles. Part 4 focuses on her life and career in Los Angeles; and the fifth and last part takes a close look at her later life, after she lost her central function at the Westside Jewish Community Center, particularly her teaching, writing, personal life, and the fate of her family. With this structure, Hirsch emphasizes the impact of Nazism on Landau’s career and deemphasizes the short but significant time Landau spent in London by splitting this episode between two chapters and parts 3 and 4 of the book—a  writer’s choice that works well and helps in balancing the overall material and keeping the prose engaging. Within the five parts, Hirsch at times eschews chronology for the sake of broader contextual information—another excellent approach given that (personal) history is never rigidly linear.

Rooted in scholarly knowledge, this biography offers more than merely an engagingly written narrative of Landau’s life and work. Indeed, Hirsch spans a wider circle, including family history and embedding the biographical portions in broader contexts with information of interest to scholars focusing on Jewish studies, women and gender studies, and musicology. At the beginning of chapter 2, for instance, Hirsch comments on Landau being “one of the earliest women to pursue a degree in musicology: She followed Elsa Blumenfeld [sic], the first-known female musicologist, who obtained her doctorate-degree in Vienna in 1903; Bertha Antonia Wallner, who earned her degree at Munich University in 1910; and Kathi Meyer-Baer, who completed hers at Leipzig University in 1916” (p. 12). Chapter 5 provides thorough context on the rise of Nazism, the racial laws and their effects on Jews, and the Jewish Culture League.

Hirsch affords the reader necessary historical context, such as when she details the difficulty for women to follow a university career and shares precise figures: “Women had been granted eligibility for Habilitation and thus entry-level academic positions in 1919. But there was a big difference between theory and practice. Before 1933, a total of eighty-four women held academic appointments at German or Austrian universities. They comprised 1.2 percent of all academic faculty members. Only four reached the rank of full professor, none of them Jewish” (p. 25).

On pages 78–79 Hirsch presents a long list of places Landau had applied to, from the Eastman School of Music to Queen’s College and Cornell University. An exhaustive and exhausting list, but the point is not lost on the reader—this is how Landau must have felt upon receiving rejection after rejection in the short period of April and May 1940. Hirsch’s writing captures emotion. Still, the question remains why Landau was rejected by so many schools. Was this a matter of not being proficient in English (a language she had difficulty learning), or of her qualifications? Hirsch does mention the writing style of her subject, such as when she comments on Landau’s correspondence, evaluating her style as “lively” and “entertaining” (p. 77), which does not contradict Reinhold’s evaluation of the autobiography.

Another question would remain throughout, a personal one: why did Landau never marry? I asked myself this several times and wondered why Hirsch would not address the topic—until she did in chapter 22, very much towards the end (an ingenious strategy to keep the reader in an agony of suspense). Hirsch does so with great sensitivity and respect, excelling at creating a sense of intimacy without being sentimental. Indeed, these passages are masterfully written.

After having finished the last chapter, I wondered whether Hirsch needed conclusions. It seemed that by page 171 all had been said and chapter 23, “In Memoriam,” already offered a finality, albeit a very sad one, given that the reader learns about the murder of Landau’s parents and siblings. Yet, in the conclusion, Hirsch rightly wonders about Landau’s overall contribution—the meaning of her life—and sees it in her “own musical history” (p. 175). For scholars, it might be more than that. Ultimately, Landau does not fit the “New World paradise” paradigm promulgated by musicologist Reinhold Brinkmann and other scholars and therein lies further importance of her existence and story—a timely story given the ongoing struggles during a time defined by new waves of emigration.[6] As such, it opens a door for further research on Landau and her standing in the world of music, bringing in further and perhaps more critical perspectives by drawing on archival collections of organizations and individuals with whom she crossed paths.

With Landau’s story comes a wonderful selection of photos, presented as an insert about midway through the volume. Some readers might wish to find these photos in closer proximity to the related narrative. There are no callouts in the chapters that create a link between narrative and image. Indeed, the book could have benefited from closer editing and fact-checking. The first woman to obtain a degree in musicology was not “Elsa Blumenfeld,” it was the unfathomable Elsa Bienenfeld (1877–1942) who earned her doctorate on May 22, 1903, with a dissertation on Wolfgang Schmelzl’s songbook of 1544, and after a successful career as music critic tragically died on May 26, 1942, in the concentration camp of Maly Trostinec near Minsk.[7] Bertha Antonia Wallner earned her degree in 1911 (not, as mentioned, in 1910); her dissertation was published a year after her graduation under the title Musikalische Denkmäler der Steinätzkunst des 16. und 17. Jahrhunderts nebst Beiträgen zur Musikpflege dieser Zeit. Meyer-Baer completed her dissertation under her maiden name, that is Meyer, with the title Der chorische Gesang der Frauen mit besonderer Bezugnahme seiner Betätigung auf geistlichem Gebiet bis zur Zeit um 1800. If “theirs was a short list that was only growing” (p. 12), a major point to make is that of the women who received their doctorate before 1936 (the last year one was awarded to a Jew during the Nazi era), many were born Jewish and focused on European music from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century—a sign of the acculturation and embourgeoisement but also emancipation (in the dual sense) of Europe’s Jewish women. Edith Vogl (not mentioned in the book), who received her doctorate in 1928 from the Charles University in Prague, fits this category as well (a student of another would-be émigré, Paul Nettl, she delivered a thesis on Giacomo Carissimi’s oratorio technique).

The lack of editorial care is also reflected in the absence of a bibliography—an unusual lacuna for a book published by a university press. One might argue that citations in endnotes suffice, but at times these, too, are missing. Take, for example page 91 where musicologist Anneliese Fauser is quoted twice in the beginning of the last paragraph. No reference is provided for these quotes. A letter from Eleanor Roosevelt, paraphrased by Hirsch at the end of the page, finally provides a reference, which then leads to Fauser’s publication. Or take page 97, where Hugo Leichtentritt’s memoirs are quoted, again without reference. The next endnote on this page leads the reader to an abbreviated reference, “DeVoto, Musical Life.” After much browsing in the endnote section, I still could not locate the correct reference and only a Google search led me to Mark DeVoto’s edited volume, A Musical Life in Two Worlds: The Autobiography of Hugo Leichtentritt (2014). Similarly, for scholars who want to trace Landau’s life through places, their absence from the index is a noticeable omission. For a general readership, however, this might not be an issue.

Both volumes—the posthumous “Festschrift” Von Berlin nach Los Angeles and the intimate biography Anneliese Landau’s Life in Music—aim to please different groups of readers: the academic and the general, German-speakers and English-speakers. And proficiency in any particular field is not a requirement, either. (That Hirsch glosses terms perhaps not known to some readers, such as Abitur [p. 4], B’nei B’rith lodge [p. 14], and Habilitation [p. 20], makes the book highly accessible.) Indeed, all those interested in a personal story, the history of scholarship and musicology, German studies, Jewish studies, Holocaust studies, and women studies will find much material and substance in these two books—they offer a discovery of the professional and personal life of a woman outside the canon, through her own voice and through a larger cultural-historical lens.

Tina Frühauf is an adjunct associate professor at Columbia University in New York and serves on the doctoral faculty of the Graduate Center, CUNY.


[1]. The history of musicology has long and repeatedly been an interest of the discipline itself; apart from isolated studies, a noteworthy volume is Markus Grassl and Cornelia Szabo-Knotik, Frauen in der Musikwissenschaft / Women in Musicology: Dokumentation des internationalen Workshops (Vienna: n.p., 1998). Jewish studies counts a number of articles on women scholars, but none with a tie to music research. Similar is true for women and gender studies.

[2]. See David S. Josephson, Torn Between Cultures: A Life of Kathie Meyer-Baer (Hillsdale, NY: Pendragon Press, 2012).

[3]. Von der ‘jüdischen Renaissance’ ins Exil: Der Lebensweg Anneliese Landaus bis 1939 und ihr Begriff einer ‘jüdischen Musik’, Musik im “Dritten Reich” und im Exil, 14 (Neumünster: von Bockel Verlag, 2009).

[4]. The first woman to complete a Habilitation in musicology was Bronisława Wójcik-Keuprulian, in 1934; two years later Swiss-born Lucie Dikenmann-Balmer followed, becoming the first woman to hold an associate professorship in musicology as (“ausserordentliche Professorin”); in 1950, Anne Amalie Abert became Europe’s first female supernumerary professor in musicology. See also Michał Piekarski, “A Post-Doctorate in Musicology: Bronisława Wójcik-Keuprulian and Her Path to a Scientific Career,” Acta Poloniae Historica 117, no. 159 (October 2018): 159–93. 

[5]. Unrelated, but noteworthy, in 2001 Sam Paechter memorialized the life of his great-aunt in the chamber opera The Landau Papers.

[6]. See Reinhold Brinkmann and Christoph Wolff, eds. Driven into Paradise: The Musical Migration from Nazi Germany to the United States (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999).

[7]. Many scholars have engaged the important work of Bienenfeld. For a full-fledged biography of Bienenfeld, see Eva Taudes, “Wien wird so unerträglich kleinstädtisch": Elsa Bienenfeld (1877–1942): Werdegang und Wirken im kulturellen Wien in der ersten Hälfte des 20. Jahrhunderts (Vienna: Praesens Verlag, 2018).

Citation: Tina Frühauf. Review of Hirsch, Lily E., Anneliese Landau's Life in Music: Nazi Germany to Émigré California and Landau, Anneliese; Reinhold, Daniela, Von Berlin nach Los Angeles: Die Musikwissenschaftlerin Anneliese Landau. H-Judaic, H-Net Reviews. November, 2020. URL:

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