Stars of David. The Sound of the 20th Century

Barbra Streisand, Bob Dylan, Billy Joel, Neil Diamond, Amy Winehouse, Paul Simon, Leonard Cohen, Lou Reed, and Matisyahu are just some of the Jewish artists who have made musical history. “God Bless America,” the unofficial anthem of the USA, and “White Christmas” were written by Irving Berlin, son of a Jewish immigrant from Byelorussia. Jewish musicians have stamped their influence on all aspects of the music business in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries and have made a significant contribution to entertainment culture. “Stars of David” looks at the various genres and exponents and traces the history back to the time of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, where the roots of this (musical) story are to be found.

In the early twentieth century, there was an interaction between popular music in the USA and in Europe. The European immigrants brought their musical traditions to America, and American music found its way into European entertainment culture. It was not until the emigration of many Jewish artists from Europe during the Nazi era that innovative creativity shifted definitively to the USA and the English-speaking world, as most of the successful émigrés in Hollywood did not return to Europe. Their music did, however, in all genres, from musicals and film music, to jazz, rock, and pop.

The exhibition shows this by looking at some of the main protagonists: musical composers like George Gershwin, Jerome Kern, Leonard Bernstein, and Stephen Sondheim wrote Broadway hits or music for Hollywood film classics, many of which won Oscars and Grammys. In the world of Jazz, musicians like Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Stan Getz, or John Zorn have iconic status. Rock and pop, punk, and rap feature groups like Kiss, the Ramones, and the Beastie Boys. Apart from international stars, the Israeli, French, and Viennese scenes are also investigated: from Serge Gainsbourg to the Sabres, Edek Bartz, Geduldig und Thiman, and Arik and Timna Brauer.

Event highlight: we are happy to present to our visitors the American fusion guitarist and song writer Gary Lucas on October 1, 2016. This performance is going to be part of the "Lange Nacht der Museen".

Curators: Marcus G. Patka, Alfred Stalzer