Upcoming Programming Includes Discussions, Residency Fellowships
By LILY TINOCO | Reporter
Nestled in The Riviera sits a treasured historic landmark, the former home of Nobel Prize-winning German novelist Thomas Mann.
Mann, alongside other cultural luminaries, fled war-torn Europe with his wife Katia and daughter Erika in 1933. Years later, the family found themselves in Los Angeles—specifically, the Palisades.
Some of Mann’s greatest works were written in the study of his Riviera home, including “Dr. Faustus” and “Joseph the Provider.”
Mann’s expatriation allowed him to become a significant transatlantic figure: a leading voice against fascism and dictatorship. Now he is widely recognized as one of Germany’s most influential authors.
And Germany is helping his voice and legacy live on. The German government purchased the 5,266-square-foot house designed by architect J.R. Davidson in 2016 in hopes of developing a cultural center that promotes intellectual debate.
“When it was on the market in 2016, a lot of intellectuals in Germany, journalists, academics, started this initiative and encouraged the German government to preserve this site,” Nikolai Blaumer, program director of the Thomas Mann House, said to the Palisadian-Post. “We’re especially grateful.”
As a part of this initiative, the Thomas Mann House reopened in 2018 and has implemented a series of upcoming programs and events that allude to Mann himself.
The Thomas Mann House presents the series “55 Voices for Democracy,” which started in October 2019 and emulates the 55 BBC radio addresses Thomas Mann delivered from his home between 1940 and 1945.
“He used the media of his time to address his fellow countrymen to fight against fascism and dictatorship in his home country during war time,” Blaumer said. “The lectures that were written at the property of this house, that’s really the most remarkable history. We would like to continue this legacy.”
“55 Voices” invites “internationally esteemed intellectuals, scientists and artists to present ideas for the renewal of democracy,” according to the website. These individuals include Judith Butler, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o and more. The series can be found on YouTube and will be uploaded each month.
Similarly, small music gatherings are held at the house. Thomas Mann would host musical evenings and had relations with influential musical figures of his time, music was a vital part of his life in Los Angeles.
In February 2020, Alex Ross, a music critic for The New Yorker, and Esa-Pekka Salonen, a composer and conductor laureate of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, will host a discussion about Mann accompanied by an exploration of records from Mann’s time.
But it is important to note that the Mann House is not open to the general public as an effort to respect the private character of the neighborhood.
“It’s important to fit into this environment and show our neighbors that we are a contribution to their lives, it is not a public venue,” Blaumer said.
The house also offers residency fellowships for German artists and intellectuals, specifically individuals who address issues relevant to both shores of the Atlantic. The home offers a peaceful atmosphere for its fellows to actively engage in intellectual exchange and their own work.
Applications for 2021 are open until February 2020.
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