here's a poor taste hoax gaining some tenure on discussion lists:
> Subject: Music's darker side (fwd)
> BERLIN, GERMANY (AP) - Recent admissions by an ex-Nazi official living
> in Argentina have confirmed what some musicologists have suspected for
> years: that early twentieth century German composer Anton Webern and his
> colleagues devised the so-called "serial" technique of music to encrypt
> messages to Nazi spies living in the United States and Britain.
> In what can surely be considered the most brazen instance of Art
> Imitating Espionage to date, avant garde composers of the Hitler years
> working in conjunction with designers of the Nazi Enigma code were
> bamboozling unsuspecting audiences with their atonal thunderings while
> at the same time passing critical scientific data back and forth between
> "This calls into question the entire Second Viennese School of music,"
> announced minimalist composer John Adams from his home in the Adirondack
> Mountains. "Ever since I first encountered compositions by Arnold
> Schonberg I wondered what the hell anyone ever heard in it. Now I
> Gunned down by an American soldier in occupied Berlin, 62 year old Anton
> Webern's death was until now considered a tragic loss to the musical
> world. At the time the U.S. Army reported that the killing was "a
> mistake", and that in stepping onto the street at night to smoke a
> cigarette Webern was violating a strict curfew rule.
> It is now known that Webern was using music to shuttle Werner
> Heisenberg's discoveries in atomic energy to German spy Klaus Fuchs
> working on the Manhattan atom bomb project in New Mexico. Due to the
> secret nature of the project, which was still underway after the
> invasion of Berlin, Army officials at the time were unable to describe
> the true reason for Webern's murder.
> Hans Scherbius, a Nazi party official who worked with Minister of
> Propaganda Joseph Goebbels, admitted at age eighty-seven that the Nazis
> secretly were behind the twelve-tone technique of composition, which was
> officially reviled to give it the outlaw status it needed to remain
> outside of the larger public purview.
> "These pieces were nothing more than cipher for encoding messages," he
> chuckled during an interview on his balcony in Buenos Aires. "It was
> only because it was 'naughty' and difficult that elite audiences
> accepted it, even championed it."
> Physicist Edward Teller, who kept a 9-foot Steinway piano in his
> apartment at the Los Alamos laboratory, was the unwitting deliverer of
> Heisenburg's data to Fuchs, who eagerly attended parties thrown by
> Teller, an enthusiastic booster of Webern's music.
> Arnold Schonberg, the older musician who first devised the serial
> technique at the request of the Weimar government of Germany, composed
> in America to deliver bomb data stolen by Fuchs back to the Nazis, who
> worked feverishly to design their own atomic weapons.
> As an example, Scherbius showed Associated Press reporters the score of
> Webern's Opus 30 "Variations for Orchestra" overlayed with a cardboard
> template. The notes formed a mathematical grid that deciphered into
> German a comparison between the neutron release cross-sections of
> uranium isotopes 235 and 238.
> Schonberg responded with a collection of songs for soprano and woodwinds
> that encrypted the chemical makeup of the polonium-beryllium initiator
> at the core of the Trinity explosion.
> And in Japan, Toru Takemitsu took time out from his own neo-romanticism
> to transmit data via music of his nation's progress with the atom.
> "The most curious thing about it," says composer Philip Glass in New
> York City, "is that musicians continued to write twelve-tone music after
> the war, even though they had no idea why it was really invented.
> Indeed, there are guys who are churning out serialism to this day."
> Unlike the diatonic music, which is based on scales that have been
> agreed upon by listeners throughout the world for all of history,
> twelve-tone music treats each note of the chromatic scale with equal
> importance, and contains a built-in mathematical refusal to form chords
> that are pleasing by traditional standards. Known also as serialism,
> the style has never been accepted outside of an elite cadre of
> musicians, who believe it is the only fresh and valid direction for
> post-Wagnerian classical music to go.
> "Even if this is really true," states conductor Pierre Boulez, a
> composer who continues to utilize serial techniques, "the music has been
> vindicated by music critics for decades now. I see no reason to
> suddenly invalidate an art form just because of some funny business at
> its inception."
>------- End of Forwarded Message