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GERMANY: Neurotic Germans

Philip Terzian says: "Neurosis, self-contradiction, sturm und drang, morbidity, &c. have been the wellsprings of much great German art -- and to my perverse way of thinking part of the charm of the Germans -- since the days of Grunewald and Durer through Kleist, Beethoven, Goethe, Nietzsche, Wagner, the brothers Mann, Hindemith, and on and on. Anyone who has ever gazed upon Caspar David Friedrich's "Der Wanderer uber dem Nebelmeer" at the Hamburg Art Museum would agree that, to paraphrase Henry James, it's a complex fate, being a German".

RH: Are we talking about Germans or artists? Psychiatrist Richard Kagan of the Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York links music to troubled composers and discusses among others Schumann and Beethoven. But he also discusses Tchaikovsky and Gershwin. Would you describe beer- swilling, sausage-eating Bavarians as neurotic? Perhaps; they were the original followers of Hitler, who is the German whom Philip describes, minus the charm, although he clearly had a magnetic quality for the Germans.

Ronald Hilton - 1/18/03