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Thread: music and politics

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    Default music and politics

    Hi everyone,

    I'm working on a school project, the theme is "music and politics" and I've chosen to work on classical music. This subject is extremely wide so i have to define what i want to work on more precisely. Therefore, I'd like to know what comes to your mind when both classical music and politics are mentioned ?

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    Senior Member EdwardBast's Avatar
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    A good place to start would be looking through "Politics and Religion in Classical Music," which is a subdivision of the Religious Music Forum above. Good luck wading through that!

    Your frogs make me shudder with intolerable loathing and I shall be miserable for the rest of my life remembering them.
    — Mikhail Bulgakov, The Fatal Eggs

    When a true genius appears on the earth, you may know him by this sign, that all of the dunces are in confederacy against him.
    — Jonathan Swift

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    Maybe you could talk about John Adams and how many of his operas were inspired by U.S. presidents.

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    When I think of music and politics, Shostakovich is the first name that pops into my head. The relationship between Shostakovich's music and Soviet politics is endlessly fascinating and complicated. This relationship has served as the basis of numerous books and articles--as well as a great many heated debates here on TC!

    If you're interested in exploring this topic, the writings of Richard Taruskin are a good place to start. Here's a New York Times article by Taruskin which lays out some of the controversies and theories surrounding Shostakovich's political beliefs: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/28/a...vich.html?_r=0

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    La muette de Portici!!

    A performance of that opera at Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels stirred up the revolutionary and nationalist feelings and is considered to be at the base of the founding of Belgium in 1830. Before that, belonging to Holland of Willem I.

    So as a classical music-lover I should be proud to be Belgian

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    You should start listening to Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture and Beethoven's Wellingtons Victory.
    "Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy." - Ludwig van Beethoven

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    Of course, there is the famous episode of Beethoven removing the dedication to Napoleon of the Eroica Symphony when he declared himself Emperor.

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    A number of interesting ideas have been presented so far but I would think that you want something a bit more generalized. One idea would be how governments used and abused music as a tool of political control. You could focus on Nazi Germany and particularly the use of Wagner's Germanic ideals as a positive, also the concept of 'degenerate' music (usually Jewish). The communist block put in a lot of effort to control both composers and performers during the 30's thru 80's with Shostakovich being just one example. Others would be Lutoslawski and Pendercki in Poland, An interesting side note to the latter is the impact in the Soviet Union when an American, Van Cliburn, won the Tchaikovsky piano competition. That may not see like a big deal here, but it was there and then.
    Last edited by Becca; Mar-06-2017 at 04:59.

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    P.S. If you choose to go with the communist idea mentioned above, you might want to start by watching Three Journeys Through Dark Landscapes, an episode of Simon Rattle's 1990s series about 20th century orchestral music - Leaving Home.


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    You can also think.... what would I have done without the internet, go to the library and study.

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    If we define "politics" rather broadly to include all sorts of interactions between people, money, institutions, etc., you could examine the internal politics of classical music on several levels. Norman Lebrecht often writes on this sort of politics within CM. His book, Who Killed Classical Music? is one such.

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    There's probably as much politics in classical music as there is in politics!
    "In the beginning there was noise. And the noise begat rhythm. And the rhythm begat everything else." - Mickey Hart

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    IIRC, even operas like Beethoven's Fidelio and Mozart's Marriage of Figaro were, in their own ways, commentaries on the political and social situations of their days.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ekim the Insubordinate View Post
    IIRC, even operas like Beethoven's Fidelio and Mozart's Marriage of Figaro were, in their own ways, commentaries on the political and social situations of their days.
    People are put in dungeons like every day nowadays.

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