SINGERS' MOVEMENT

German music played a significant role in German history and the process of unifying the country. The singers conveyed a political message, sometimes encrypted to protect them against repressions. The first singing societies of the early 1800s have their origins in an increasing spirit of resistance against the French occupation of German territory and were a mobilization of people to take a stand for the German idea. The male choirs took their inspirations from Russian soldier choirs. Whereas the first choirs promoted awareness for a Prussian national character, the choirs after 1824 promoted German unity and communal spirit. The singers' movement started with the foundation of the male chorus of Stuttgart in 1824. It had spread from there to the Swabian hinterland before the movement reached Baden, Bavaria, Hesse, and Thuringia. The first singing societies were exclusive clubs of the upper and educated class. However, the events of the pre-March era and the demand for more civil freedoms within a unified German state opened the societies for the common German man. Since the 1830s, they had a folksy and attractive character to promote this communal spirit. The first singing festival took place in Stuttgart in 1827. Other prominent festivals that held a political message were the singing festivals in Magdeburg (1828), Nuernberg (1833), and Wuerzburg (1845). The events emphasized unity. The singers from all corners of the German Confederation didn't come as strangers but as singing warriors for the same cause. Popular songs were Heinrich Marschner's "Liedesfreiheit" (freedom of songs) and Moritz Arndt's ambitious political song "Was ist des Deutschen Vaterland" (What is the German fatherland?).

SOURCES / QUELLENANGABE:

 

Klenke, Dietmar. Der singende "deutsche Mann"- Gesangsvereine und Deutsches Nationalbewusstsein von Napoleon bis Hitler. Münster: Waxmann Verlag GmbH, 1998.