JONNY Spielt Auf – Cigarettes Against Hitler

Jonny Cigarettes - Austria

The end of World War I broke the Austro-Hungarian Empire apart and years of political and economic disarray, culminating in the Anschluss of 1938 that united Austria with Nazi Germany.

But this period also witnessed great cultural growth. Austrian respect for the arts was sufficiently strong for a ground-breaking opera, Jonny Spielt Auf (Jonny Plays), to earn its own cigarette brand, known simply as Jonny. Of course, back when Jonny hit the scenes in 1925-1926, you could probably still smoke in the opera house. Today, most opera-goers have to stand outside the building to smoke, so they’d do better checking out the opera on YouTube.

Czech-Austrian composer Ernst Křenek incorporated Jazz and Blues elements into the score, along with an assortment of mundane sounds like loudspeakers and alarm bells. Not your typical Mozart and Haydn composition – Křenek wanted to infuse Austrian culture with energy from the New World.

Cover of Musical Score for Jonny Spiel Auf. By graphic design: Arthur Stadler (1892-1937) (Andrea1903) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
By graphic design: Arthur Stadler (1892-1937) (Andrea1903) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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