The End of Utopias - Anarchism and Music

A Review by Uli Aumüller

An eyewitness (well past 80) of the Munich soviet republic sings song compositions by Kurt Eisner.
An eyewitness (already past the age of 90) of the Spanish Civil War and international press spokesman for the republican side, describes the order in the chaos of practiced local self-government.
Kurt Schwitters describes in "Franz Müllers Drahtfrühling" the outbreak of a Spartacist uprising in Hanover (and something like an aesthetic of the anarchist artwork).
Gustav Landauer sketches an anarchist view of the world and cosmos that uses Beethoven's Ninth as a metaphor and seeks to overcome it (accompanied by John Cage's MUSIC FOR FIVE).
An eyewitness describes the first encounters of London punks in the late seventies with a bourgeois anarchist reading circle (punk with wing accompaniment).
And every now and then the microphone crashes in a strictly aleatoric way. The whole TROTZ ALLEDEM a broadcast of the Bayerischer Rundfunk.

First broadcast: September 13, 1991

In 1983 - after a reading from his memoirs - Augustin Souchy, who was about 91 years old at the time, asked me if he was almost blind and needed someone to read his mail to him and type his replies into the typewriter. I got in touch - and in the following years visited him two or three times a month, read out the correspondence he had with countless heads of state, secretaries-general, party leaders all over the world - and sat with him in his tiny flat in Munich's Schwere-Reiter-Straße, drank Nescafe and listened to his stories. Thus the incident that he had been invited to Petersburg in 1919, had been picked up by Lenin in person - in the Tsar's Rolls Royce - and on the short drive from the hotel to the meeting place of the Second International was to be persuaded by him to renounce political anarchism, which Lenin considered a petty-bourgeois infantile disease, and to join him, Lenin, and his socialism. He told how he had visited Bakunin in Belarus, how he had visited Krapotkin in the Ukraine, he told of Rosa Luxenburg, Karl Liebknecht, Erich Mühsam, Gustav Landauer, as if he had just met them in the nearby Cafe Extrablatt in Nymphenburger Straße. He told of his time as press spokesman for the Spanish Republic, which had two enemies: an external one - Franco's fascists - and an internal one - the cadres of the communist party, an extended arm of Moscow, who were really only after Spanish gold. He told of founding land cooperatives in Mexico and the kibuzzim in Israel, and of his work as an advisor to the UN in New York. And he told of living only on a very modest pension as a persecutee of the Nazi regime, he had no other income.

Augustin Souchy had a fundamental influence on my own thinking, even though in the course of my life I turned less to politics and more to art, to music in particular. How can one compose music in which there is a whole and at the same time no violence is done to each individual tone, to each individual part, each element develops freely and yet something like harmony prevails in the interaction of all the individual parts? Augustin Souchy, who died on 1 January 1984, wanted to realise this dream in social reality.
This radio programme, which was produced almost 10 years later, is reminiscent of my teacher and role model, although he himself does not get a chance to speak, because the only interview I recorded with him on an extremely simple cassette recorder could not be found for a long time - and only turned up 30 years later in a box in the cellar. Instead, a friend of his, Arthur Schinnagl, sings songs for us that he had sung in 1920 while imprisoned in a Bavarian fortress. As a participant and supporter of the Munich soviet republic, he served the one and a half year minimum prison sentence - and remembered the songs he sang with his fellow prisoners as if it were yesterday. This recording was also made with a very peculiar microphone, which, due to a lack of functioning shielding, caught stray radio stations.

Interview Augustin Souchy 1983
Augustin Souchy Münchner Stadtzeigung 1993
Interview Arthur Schinnagl 1993

Cast & Crew

Uli Aumüller
contemporary witness
Augustin Souchy, Arthur Schinnagl
Jürgen Jung
Editorial Jounalist
Wolf Loeckle