Musical Imagery and the Canon in Sighard Gille’s Gewandhaus Mural Gesang vom Leben

Juliane Schicker


Visitors to the Leipzig Gewandhaus in Germany can still admire its mural Gesang vom Leben by painter Sighard Gille today, but scholarship about this East German painting has been limited regarding its iconography and socio-political commentary. Such analysis, however, can help remember and reinterpret the German Democratic Republic and shed light on relationships between music and the fine arts. Through musical imagery, Gille commented on actually existing socialism by means of a dual approach including criticism and support of the system. Gille articulated his vision for the country by linking socio-political concerns with artistic expression and by alluding to controversial topics in the GDR’s (artistic) history. While positioning the Gewandhaus as closely tied to its locality and musical history, Gille also offered criticism of the musical canon as disseminated by GDR musicologists and performers. In this way, the artist becomes an agent in the development of socialism and its art. (JS)

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