Pamela M. Potter
German, Professor

Potter C.V. 2017

Languages: German, Yiddish

Research/Language Interests: German music, cultural history, visual and performing arts, emigration, race, issues of national identity, historiography, arts and politics, 20th-century Berlin, legacies of German composers (Richard Wagner, Richard Strauss, G.F. Handel, J.S. Bach), Yiddish language and culture

Education: A.B., Harvard University, magna cum laude; M. Phil., Yale University; Ph.D., Yale University

Affiliated Departments: School of Music; Director, Center for German and European Studies

Undergraduate Courses: German 267: Yiddish Song and the Jewish Experience; German 278: Culture in Twentieth-Century Berlin; German 272: Nazi Culture

Graduate Courses: German 804: “Modernism,” “Totalitarianism,” and “Fascism” in the Arts German; 804: Writing Nazi Cultural History

About Me: My work concentrates on relating music, the arts, and the writing of cultural history to ideological, political, social, and economic conditions, focusing twentieth-century Germany, Jewish music, and the impact of German emigration on American musical life. My book Most German of the Arts: Musicology and Society from the Weimar Republic to the End of Hitler's Reich (Yale University Press, 1998) was the first full-scale attempt to examine the field of German musicology in its political, ideological, and economic contexts, using extensive documentation to reconstruct the history of musicological projects and institutions and to reveal the conflicts and compromises that led scholars to find their niche in German society by coming to mutually beneficial agreements with political powers before, during, and after the Nazi era. It was reviewed in The New York Times and was translated into German in 2000 and Portuguese in 2015, with a forthcoming translation Chinese. The volume I co-edited with historian Celia Applegate, Music and German National Identity (University of Chicago Press, 2002), brings together the work of highly acclaimed experts in musicology, ethnomusicology, German history, and German literature. The seventeen essays contained in it set out to explore how music has come to be so closely identified with German identity (a phenomenon illustrated by the classical music “catechism” of the “three B’s”: Bach, Beethoven and Brahms) by examining trends in philosophy, literature, politics, and social currents, as well as in the creation and performance of folk music, art music, church music, jazz, rock, and pop. My most recent book, Art of Suppression: Confronting the Nazi Past in Histories of the Visual and Performing Arts (Weimar and Now series, University of California Press, 2016), raises questions about the uniqueness of Nazi culture and aesthetics and traces the roots of these ideas in West German and Anglophone cultural histories. Previous honors include the Alfred Einstein Award of the American Musicological Society; the Vilas Associate Award, the Romnes Faculty Fellowship, and the Kellett Mid-Career Award from the University of Wisconsin. I have also received grant support from Fulbright, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the German Academic Exchange, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Social Science Research Council.

Selected Publications


Art of Suppression: Confronting the Nazi Past in the Histories of the Visual and Performing Arts, Weimar and Now: German Cultural Criticism. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2016.  408 pp.

Most German of the Arts: Musicology and Society from the Weimar Republic to the End of Hitler’s Reich. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1998. xxii, 364 pp. Named Outstanding Academic Book of 1999, Choice magazine.

Translations of Most German of the Arts:

      Die deutscheste der Künste. Musikwissenschaft und Gesellschaft von der Weimarer Republik bis zum Ende des Dritten Reichs. Translated by Wolfram Ette. Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta Verlag, 2000. 416 pp.

      A Mais Alemã das Artes: Musicologia e sociedade da República de Weimar ao fin da era nazista.  Translated by Rainer Patriota. São Paolo: Editora Perspectiva, 2015.  492 pp.

[Chinese edition in preparation: Beijing Yanziyue Culture & Art Studio]

Co-Edited Publications

Music and German National Identity. Ed. with Celia Applegate. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002. x, 319 pp.

“Measuring the World.” Edited with B. Venkat Mani. Special issue of Monatshefte für deutschsprachige Literatur und Kultur 108/3 (Fall 2016). 149 pp.

Articles and Book Chapters

with B. Venkat Mani: “Measuring the World: Preface.” Monatshefte 108/3 (Fall 2016): 313-320.

“The Legacy of Denazification: An American Researcher in the Two German States.” In Stephanie Klauck, Luca Aversano, and Rainer Kleinertz, ed., Musik und Musikwissenschaft im Umfeld des Faschismus/ Musica e musicologia allepoca del fascismo, Saarbrücker Studien zur Musikwissenschaft (Sinzig: Studio Verlag, 2015).  Pp. 201-210.

“Händel als ‘deutscher Staatskomponist’ im 20. Jahrhundert.” Händel-Jahrbuch (2014): 21-36.

“Die Vergleichende Musikwissenschaft im Nationalsozialismus.“ Julio Mendivil, Oliver Seibt, Raimund Vogels, eds., Kompendien Musik, vol. 6: Musikethnologie (Gesellschaft für Musikforschung/Laaber Verlag, forthcoming). 16 pp.

“‘How German Is It?’ The Legacy of the Gesamtkunstwerk.” Leitmotive – The Wagner Quarterly 24/3 (Fall 2010): 6-12.

“Jewish Music and German Science.” In Philip Bohlman, ed., Jewish Musical Modernism, Old and New. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009. Pp. 89-101.

“Defining ‘Degenerate Music’ in Nazi Germany.” Articles & Essays, Orel Foundation Web Site, 2009. Accessed as:

“Wagner and the Third Reich: Myths and Realities.” In Thomas Grey, ed., Cambridge Companion to Wagner. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008. Pp. 235-245.

“The Concept of Race in German Musical Discourse.” In Julie Brown, ed., Western Music and Race. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007. Pp. 49-62.

“Creating a Concept of ‘Nazi Musicology’.” In Melania Bucciarelli and Berta Joncus, eds., Music as Social and Cultural Practice: Essays in Honour of Reinhard Strohm. Woodbridge, UK: Boydell & Brewer, 2007. Pp. 374-390.

“Dismantling a Dystopia: On the Historiography of Music in the Third Reich.” Central European History 40 (2007): 623-651. aid=1452632

“What is ‘Nazi Music’?” The Musical Quarterly 88 (2006): 428-455. Reprinted in Mark Carroll, ed., Music and Ideology. The Library of Essays on Music, Politics and Society. Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate, 2012. Pp. 235-262.

Review Article: “The Arts in Nazi Germany: A Silent Debate.” Contemporary European History 15/4 (2006): 585-599.

“Music in the Third Reich: The Complex Task of ‘Germanization’.” In Jonathan Huener and Frank Nicosia, eds., The Arts in Nazi Germany: Continuity, Conformity, Change. New York: Berghahn Books, 2006; paperback ed. 2007. Pp. 85-110.

“Musikwissenschaft und Nationalsozialismus: Der Stand der Debatte.” In Hartmut Lehmann and Otto Gerhard Oexle, eds., Nationalsozialismus in den Kulturwissenschaften, Band 1: Fächer – Milieus – Karrieren. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2004. Pp. 129-141.

“German Musical Influences in the United States.” In Detlef Junker, ed., The United States and Germany in the Era of the Cold War, 1945-1968: A Handbook, vol. 1. Publications of the German Historical Institute. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004. Pp. 451-6.

“Musical Life in Berlin from Weimar to Hitler.” In Michael H. Kater and Albrecht Riethmüller, eds., Music and Nazism. Laaber: Laaber Verlag, 2003. Pp. 90-101.

“The Politicization of Handel’s Oratorios in the Weimar Republic, the Third Reich, and the Early Years of the German Democratic Republic.” The Musical Quarterly 85 (2001): 311-341.

with Celia Applegate: “Germans as the ‘People of Music’: Genealogy of an Identity.” In Celia Applegate and Pamela Potter, eds., Music and German National Identity. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002. Pp. 1-35.

“Deutsche Musikwissenschaft im Nationalsozialismus aus amerikanischer Sicht.” In Isolde v. Foerster, Christoph Hust, and Christoph-Hellmut Mahling, eds., Musikforschung - Faschismus - Nationalsozialismus. Referate der Tagung Schloss Engers (8. bis 11. März 2000). Mainz: Are-Edition, 2001. Pp. 89-97.

“Klassische deutsche Musik in den Vereinigten Staaten.” In Detlef Junker, ed., Die USA und Deutschland im Zeitalter des Kalten Krieges, 1945-1968: Ein Handbuch. Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 2001. Pp. 686-695.

“From Jewish Exile in Germany to German Scholar in America: Alfred Einstein’s Emigration.” In Reinhold Brinkmann and Christoph Wolff, eds., Driven into Paradise: The Musical Migration from Nazi Germany to the United States. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999. Pp. 298-321.

“Musicology Under Hitler: New Sources in Context.” Journal of the American Musicological Society 49 (1996): 70-113. Winner of the 1997 Alfred Einstein Prize, American Musicological Society.

“The Nazi ‘Seizure’ of the Berlin Philharmonic, or the Decline of a Bourgeois Musical Institution.” In Glenn R. Cuomo, ed., National Socialist Cultural Policy. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1995. Pp. 39-65.

“Did Himmler Really Like Gregorian Chant? The SS and Musicology.” Modernism/Modernity 2/3 (1995): 45-68.

“German Musicology and Early Music Performance, 1918-1933.” In Bryan Gilliam, ed., Music and Performance during the Weimar Republic, Cambridge Studies in Performance Practice 3. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994. Pp. 94-106, 195-199.

“Die Lage der jüdischen Musikwissenschaftler an den Universitäten der Weimarer Zeit.” In Horst Weber, ed., Musik in der Emigration 1933-1945: Verfolgung - Vertreibung - Rückwirkung. Symposium Essen, 10. bis 13. Juni 1992. Stuttgart and Weimar: Verlag J.B. Metzler, 1994. Pp. 56-68.

“Strauss and the National Socialists: The Debate and its Relevance.” In Bryan Gilliam, ed., Richard Strauss: New Perspectives on the Composer and His Work. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 1992. Pp. 93-113.

“The Nazi Exploitation of the Wagner Image: New Perspectives on the ‘Wagner Problem.’” Leitmotive: The Journal of the Wagner Society of Northern California 6/2 (Summer 1992): 1, 3-7.

“The Deutsche Musikgesellschaft, 1918-1938.” The Journal of Musicological Research 11 (1991): 151-176.

“Strauss’s Friedenstag: A Pacifist Attempt at Political Resistance.” The Musical Quarterly 69 (1983): 408-424.



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