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I love the music of Bernstein and Copland. I never did a double take when I found out they were homosexual, despite the fact that I am not. (Actually Bernstein was bi-sexual.)

I wouldn't give up Facsimile, West Side Story and Appalachian Spring for anything.
 

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I love the music of Bernstein and Copland. I never did a double take when I found out they were homosexual, despite the fact that I am not. (Actually Bernstein was bi-sexual.)

I wouldn't give up Facsimile, West Side Story and Appalachian Spring for anything.
Eh?? But that isn't disagreeing morally or politically...unless you are morally against homosexuality or bisexuality??

This is from a thread started a few years ago:
http://www.talkclassical.com/21360-composers-weaknesses-yuck-factor.html

Another example is the organist Robert King who I mentioned before as well:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-suffolk-23248200
 

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Eh?? But that isn't disagreeing morally or politically...unless you are morally against homosexuality or bisexuality??
Yes, there are people in the present who still think homosexuality is immoral: orthodox religious believers.

I don't think morality is a black-and-white issue, but as long as there is religion, there will be those who disagree.

It's all a big contradiction, anyway. "Moral" societies like ours sanction killing if it is done in the context of war.

I think it is helpful to distinguish "morality" fron specific acts. I can disagree philosophically with someone, but it is their actions which are really at issue.
 
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I have no problems with listening to any type of music regardless of the composer's background honestly. I avoid being judgmental.
 

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a murderer? rapist? child molester?
no problem then?
 
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a murderer? rapist? child molester?
no problem then?
That depends on specifics, not generalized labels designed to stigmatize.

Henry Cowell is a good example; he was stigmatized because he was gay, and was discovered with some underage teenage boys in consentual activity; and further stigmatized for being an ex-con. Yet, he was one of America's most important composers. There is a biography now.

And please note that the terms "rapist" and "sex offender" could refer to an 18 year-old boy with a 17-year old girl. I think this country has become over-criminalized.
 

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I enjoy The Sopranos quite a bit as a show but I dislike Tony Soprano the lead character. That's a pop culture example of how much I'm willing to enjoy works by people that I find problematic.
 

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I may hate Wagner's philosophy and politics, but once the music starts I can forget all that.
I subscribed to the Metropolitan Opera for years and I attended all Wagner performances, regardless of what I thought of the man.
 

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I think that usually people regard music as something highly individual, something that is above social concerns and to be enjoyed in the privacy of one's own head. It might even be seen as an indicator of strongess: to be able to put those irrational feelings aside and just enjoy the thing in itself.

How I see this is that this view that stresses individuality is at odds with the - I think ecologically valid - view that music is at it's core social, shared, synchronization with other people. Now there's this conflict: on the other hand our culture strongly emphasizes the individuality of musical experience; on the other hand we can't escape the fact that musical experiences are social, shared, a kind of connection to the composer and performer. When someone presents the question whether you would listen to a string quartet by Adolf Hitler, these two views are in a conflict: we would like to act in a culturally approved way and show the strongness and individuality everyone expects from us, but at the same time we don't feel comfortable with having a emotional connection to Adolf Hitler.

This connection, if one exist, has to be in a sense "virtual". Obviously when one listens to, say, Schubert, one can't directly be connecting to Schubert. I would think it is something akin to looking at a movie: we are not dealing with real objects but representations of those objects: the actors are not really present, the actions are not really happening, it's all just dots on a computer screen, but still the emotional connection can be almost as strong as with real people. A CD is just a mechanical reproduction of something that has happened in the past: we don't, at least usually, think that we would be listening to our speaker elements - although their transduction of electrical activity into air pressure waves is the direct acoustical reason for our experience. We would say that we are listening to Schubert (performed by someone).

These mental objects are obviously abstractions. The most obvious reason is that no one here - I'd guess - has ever met Schubert, so no one can concretely know what kind of a person Schubert was. But even if one had a time machine and could go back in time and meet Schubert - would that really change the situation? Isn't every shared experience always in some way abstraction, a part of the whole experience? If someone could share her WHOLE experience with someone, I guess the one with whom she would be sharing the experience should be the exact same person who is sharing the experience - herself. Only parts of our experience can be shared and in that way we are always connecting with abstractions.
 

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I enjoy The Sopranos quite a bit as a show but I dislike Tony Soprano the lead character. That's a pop culture example of how much I'm willing to enjoy works by people that I find problematic.
The Sopranos wasn't *by* Tony Soprano, it was *about* him. It's an entirely different issue, more akin to asking if you like can like Peter a Grimes or Othello.
 

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I do it all the time, as an atheist I have lot's of religious works that I enjoy a great lot. My favourite composer is and always will be J.S. Bach and his cantatas and his Passions are works I relish. And they can move me too, in a contextual sense, like for me the bible or religion is something of which I can see the beauty. The stories are beautiful and can be read as a more universal telling, transcending the "read it as if it is a fact and believe it." Lots of the stories can just be read as an example of or a manifestation of the or a human condition. Of course this is also very true for paintings / sculptures. Regarding politics, I really like Wagner's operas and do not listen to them with a connotation of his (alleged) dubious politics, the same way I enjoy Shakespeares "The merchant of Venice", which is not free of anti-semitism.

My values and what I use to try to guide me life are not founded in religion, but rather in (carefully chosen) parts of Western Philosophy. However there are philosophers that I find intriguing and whose ideas I enjoy reasoning about, yet don't "believe" or "accept" - I really don't know how to express that - "can not implement in my own sense of logic." So I make a selection there, too.

Kant said - and I read Kant more in Dutch and a bit in German, so this is a quick quotation from a this site: "Art can be tasteful, yet soulless." I for myself am not entitled to the opinion that for a piece of art to have soul I would have to agree with it's values. The soul of art (I suppose that is what we can describe as the enjoyed thing) comes from a contra rational place.

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Disclaimer: I don't know if this makes sense. Having a bit of trouble with English not being my first language or the language I express quite complex ideas in on a daily basis
 
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I think we must all do it all the time assuming we listen quite widely, since we are not usually privy to the opinions and attitudes of composers (barring high profile instances).
 

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To answer the OP's question. Yes! As long as Dick Cheney doesn't compose something. ;)
 
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In general, sure. I can think of a few cases where I might want to avoid certain art on the grounds of distaste towards the artist.

If the art itself is an expression of the thing about the artist I don't like, then I might stay away from it. Some film buffs really like The Birth of a Nation, I'm told, but I don't think I'll ever watch it. Similarly, some people see Wagner's operas as an expression of his anti-semitism. I disagree strongly in most cases, but I can see why somebody might want to avoid him for that reason. I can't say Hans Sachs' "foreign tricks" speech is my favourite part of the Canon.

I'm also sometimes hesitant to pay for works of art if I think the artist might do something with the money I would rather they didn't. There are authors whose books I won't buy for that reason. The composers I like tend to be safely dead, however, so that doesn't come into play much.
 
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I am answering this entirely theoretically.

I might find it hard to ignore the person behind the music if s/he was a vicious sadist who all his or her life made people miserable. It would have to be an extreme case.
But if he held unpleasant views or was a bit of a sinner, one can always hope for repentance at the last.
And one can lose oneself in the sound and the sound-patterns, beyond words and judgements, so that the author's persona does not impinge.

In literature, a genre based on words and values, I find it much harder to like writing by people whose world-view I don't share - because it results in poetry or novels that are not to my taste (which is logical and natural when you think about it) rather than because I feel disapproval welling up while I'm reading it.

It's fairly likely that music written by people who held a different world view to mine - for example, a surreal or cynical person whose art is designed to outrage his or her audience - might have the same effect on me - that is, I just wouldn't like their music anyway, rather than that I was trying to enjoy it but couldn't forget the composer's views.

I can't think of any examples - probably because I don't listen to a wide enough range of music. :eek:
 

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I have a better question: if you listened to a string quartet without knowing the author and formed an opinion about it, and then someone told you it had been composed by AH, would that first opinion change?
My ears' opinion won't change. But the piece will appear so pejoratively connoted to my mind that I'll have difficulties to appreciate it...
This is I think something somehow both interesting and disturbing in art: the artistic work overshadows the artist. Then, beauty does not come from the author anymore, but only of his work, as if it 'acted on its own'.
 

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The OP's question avoids the issue of whether or not the artwork actually embodies or expresses the political or moral values of the creator. In order to embody extra-musical cultural values, the music must do it via the music itself, or through text or operatic plot, etc.
Minimalism "embodies" its cultural/religious values musically, in the way that it repeats, evoking non-Western (Eastern) ideas of repetition and meditation, in the way that it repeats and drones.

Instrumentation is an obvious way that music embodies cultural values and norms; loosely speaking, if it has bassoons, it's Western, and if it is a sitar, tamboura, and tablas, it's from India.
 
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