Bertolt Brecht, Lion Feuchtwanger, Fritz Lang, Thomas Mann, Arnold Schoenberg - names which heavily contributed to Germany’s 20th century intellectual history. What unites these cultural giants is their choice of exile during the rise of Adolph Hitler - Los Angeles.
The Soul of California is pleased to have UCLA Professor Dr. Ehrhard Bahr on the programme, author of Weimar on the Pacific - German Exile Culture and the Crisis of Modernism. In this 35+ minute interview, Dr. Bahr covers a range of topics including the circumstances in which these writers, artists and musicians came to the United States, their reception once they arrived and the ups an downs of being in exile while their own country Germany was being led into hell.
Dr. Bahr discusses the role of Los Angeles in German cultural history, from the salons which were an extension of life in Berlin to the strained relationships between some of these pivotal figures and their difficulties in representing Germany in their adopted land.
The Golden Gate and Bay bridges have not only heavily contributed to the iconic San Francisco skyline, they serve as a collective engineering and aesthetic tour de force.
Architect Donald MacDonald, whose work continues on the redesigned Bay Bridge, gives an extensive overview of both bridges and thier places in San Francisco's history. Covering the politics and the financial history of each bridge, MacDonald moves on to discuss seismic measures, environmental impact, the "bridge aesthetic" (design) and how some cities are branding themselves through their iconic bridges.
Just east of Los Angeles, Palm Springs became and has remained the home of the architectural movement known as Desert Modernism.
In this 50-minute podcast, Alan Hess sets the movement in the historical context of post-World War II America and the rise of the recreational economy, describes the design and structural/material aspects which distinguish it from other movements and then covers the region's topographical and climatic conditions, the movement's core architects such as Richard Neutra, Albert Frey, William Cody, E. Stewart Williams and William Krisel, as well as how desert modernism has managed to maintain its allure over the years.
John Steinbeck, one of American's literary giants, is the author of amongst others, The Grapes of Wrath, Cannery Row and Of Mice and Men. Steinbeck highlighted the plight of America's workers who migrated west to California in the 1930s, drawing not only critical acclaim, but also intense criticism from landowners and politicians.
Dr. Susan Shillinglaw, Director of the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas, California, reflects on his miniscule handwriting, his love for the natural world, his eye for detail and the one item that epitomises Steinbeck's soul for her.
This 50-minute podcast includes Steinbeck's 1962 Nobel Peace Prize speech, discussing the role of the writer and the importance of literature. The speech is generously made available by Swedish Radio.
In this 40-minute interview, "barroom guitarist" (and Grammy Winner) Dave Alvin discusses a range of topics including recording Big Bill Broonzy songs with his brother Phil, his first songwriting lesson (barely a teen) from Big Joe Turner, sneaking into L.A's Ashgrove Club as a kid and his close relationship with musician Chris Gaffney.
Along the way, Alvin gives listeners a glimpse into his songwriting technique and production stye, his love of ghost towns, "shining buckles" in Nashville West, his recording future and what makes California so unique.
A very personal, honest, funny and touching portrait of one of California's, indeed America's, leading musicians.