Jonny spielt auf

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Jonny spielt auf (Jonny Plays) is a German-language opera with words and music by Austrian composer Ernst Krenek about a jazz violinist. The work typified the cultural freedom of the 'golden era' of the Weimar Republic.

Performance history[edit]

It was premiered at the Stadttheater, Leipzig on 10 February 1927. A tremendous success in Germany where it was performed 421 times on various stages during its first season alone, it provided Krenek with the financial security to be able to devote all his time to composing. It was staged in 42 different opera houses, including eventually New York City on 19 January 1929 where it was given under Arthur Bodansky with Florence Easton, Fleischer, Kirchoff, Michael Bohnen and Friedrich Schorr. The libretto was translated into 14 languages. It was the first opera performed by Swiss tenor Hugues Cuenod.

Nevertheless, with the rise of the Nazi movement, the opera encountered hostility in Vienna in 1927-1928 from Nazi sympathisers, and the same protests occurred several years later in Munich. After the National Socialists attained power in Germany, they banned the opera.[1] Indeed, at the 1938 Entartete Musik exhibition in Düsseldorf, organiser Hans Severus Ziegler condemned the opera as the very archetype of Weimar decadence.[2]


Jonny spielt auf, the title page of the 1926 vocal score (1st edition)
Role Voice type Premiere Cast, 10 February 1927
(Conductor: Gustav Brecher)
Anita, an opera singer soprano Fanny Cleve
Max, a composer tenor Paul Beinert
Daniello, a virtuoso violinist baritone Theodor Horand
Jonny, a black jazz band fiddler baritone Max Spilcker
Yvonne, a hotel chambermaid soprano Claire Schulthess
Hotel director tenor
Railway employee tenor
Artists' manager tenor
First policeman tenor
Second policeman baritone
Third policeman bass




  1. ^ a b Rickards, Guy, "Record Review" (December 1993). Tempo (New Ser.), 187: pp. 55-57.
  2. ^ Richard S. Levy, Antisemitism: A Historical Encyclopedia Of Prejudice And Persecution, Volume 1, ABC-CLIO, 2005, p. 476


  • Amadeus Almanac, accessed 27 August 2008
  • Alexiadis, Minus I., (2000), Jonny spielt auf, (Unpublished Ph.D. Dissertation, Athens University, Department of Music Studies, (in Greek language)
  • Holden, Amanda, Viking Opera Guide, Viking, 1993
  • Purkis, Charlotte (1992), 'Jonny spielt auf' in The New Grove Dictionary of Opera, ed. Stanley Sadie (London) ISBN 0-333-73432-7
  • Taylor-Jay, Claire, The Artist-Operas of Pfitzner, Krenek, and Hindemith: Politics and the Ideology of the Artist, Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004.
  • Warrack, John and West, Ewan (1992), The Oxford Dictionary of Opera, 782 pages, ISBN 0-19-869164-5
  • Wood, Ean (2000), The Josephine Baker Story, (p. 142) MPG Books, ISBN 1-86074-286-6

Other sources