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In Schiller's Ode, at least Beethoven's version, the "universal brotherhood" theme is very prominent:

Joy...
Your magic brings together
what custom has sternly divided.
All men shall become brothers,
wherever your gentle wings hover.

Whoever has been lucky enough
to become a friend to a friend,
Whoever has found a beloved wife,
let him join our songs of praise!
Yes, and anyone who can call one soul
his own on this earth!
Any who cannot, let them slink away
from this gathering in tears!

...

Be embraced, you millions!
This kiss is for the whole world!
 

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Beethoven 9 was appropriated for political purposes by Bernstein, unless I'm misremembering, in a concert after the fall of the Berlin wall. A similar thing happened to Cage's 4'33 when it was appropriated by Ultra-red in their interventions around AIDS awareness. This is another highly interesting aspect of music in performance. Maybe all performance is appropriation with a political message -- playing Beethoven 9 in a concert hall for by a conventional orchestra, for example, is using the music to say to the bourgeois audience "it's all right, you're safe, the tradition continues." When Nigel Kennedy plays the violin concerto, it's saying "Watch out, you're not as safe as you thought!"
 

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I'm not sure about Beethoven's 3rd, but the 9th might be called "naive" as a compliment, certainly not as an insult. Nobody says universal brotherhood is easy, but have we "seen through" it now? Is it a less noble aspiration today than in 1825? Superficial it is not.
I'd call Beethoven's political philosophy superficial, or at least unrealistic, at least as I understand it. He wanted status, celebrity and money for his great musical achievements, and resented that fact that mediocre people who happened to be born to a noble family had greater status than he ever would. This gave him a certain appreciation of the ideals of an egalitarian society. However, he was perfectly well aware that an important source of his status, celebrity and money were kings, princes, archdukes and counts, and he wasn't about to give that up. And he was not an artist who disdained working merely for the money, as Mozart often seemed (or claimed) to be. In my opinion, had Beethoven not lost his hearing, and therefore his ability to perform, he would have lived out his life in rather comfortable, non-tragic circumstances.
 

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Maybe all performance is appropriation with a political message -- playing Beethoven 9 in a concert hall for by a conventional orchestra, for example, is using the music to say to the bourgeois audience "it's all right, you're safe, the tradition continues."
The galleries are full of music, the pianist is storming the keys, the great cellist is crucified over his instrument,
That none may hear the ejaculations of the sentinels
Nor the sigh of the most numerous and the most poor; the thud of their falling bodies
Who with their lives have banished hence the serpent and the faceless insect.

- Auden
(Not his best effort, but I like the "great cellist crucified over his instrument".)

I mean, this is true and even important, but it's easy to over-labour the point. Yes, civilisation is our walled garden against the chaos outside. If you have a nice garden, you should understand that not everyone else does, but you should also enjoy it.

And if a crazy punk with a violin jumps over the fence...maybe invite him in for dinner I guess, what else were you doing this evening?
 

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I'd call Beethoven's political philosophy superficial, or at least unrealistic, at least as I understand it. He wanted status, celebrity and money for his great musical achievements, and resented that fact that mediocre people who happened to be born to a noble family had greater status than he ever would. This gave him a certain appreciation of the ideals of an egalitarian society. However, he was perfectly well aware that an important source of his status, celebrity and money were kings, princes, archdukes and counts, and he wasn't about to give that up. And he was not an artist who disdained working merely for the money, as Mozart often seemed (or claimed) to be. In my opinion, had Beethoven not lost his hearing, and therefore his ability to perform, he would have lived out his life in rather comfortable, non-tragic circumstances.
Maybe that's all true, I really don't know either way, but it's definitely outside the music.
 

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Didn't Beethoven dedicate his 3rd Symphony "Eroica" to Napoleon because Beethoven, at the time, believed in the ideals of the French Revolution? But then later he ended up dedicating it some monarch?
 

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Maybe all performance is appropriation with a political message -- playing Beethoven 9 in a concert hall for by a conventional orchestra, for example, is using the music to say to the bourgeois audience "it's all right, you're safe, the tradition continues." When Nigel Kennedy plays the violin concerto, it's saying "Watch out, you're not as safe as you thought!"
Maybe all attempts to read political intentions into nonpolitical activities constitute appropriation with a political message. Especially if they use the word "bourgeois."

Strike the "maybe."

Are we unsafe around Nigel? His hair is pretty terrifying - or was, about fifty years ago.
 

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Maybe all attempts to read political intentions into nonpolitical activities constitute appropriation with a political message. Especially if they use the word "bourgeois."

Strike the "maybe."

Are we unsafe around Nigel? His hair is pretty terrifying - or was, about fifty years ago.
I used "bourgeois" in a post a while back. But I used it ironically, so don't get mad. As for Nigel, I enjoyed his Elgar concerto way back when he looked perfectly normal. I read he started making an *** of himself with a contrived punk / new age look and act because as an excellent but ordinary-looking violinist, he was being ignored. We can't pretend that other classical music soloists haven't stretched the boundaries of good taste with their on-stage appearance to attract more attention. Moreover, over the years he seems to have improved his pop culture act so it's a bit more hip and a bit less silly. And hey, if it gets more people to listen to classical music, great. None of that stuff means anything to me one way or the other, though.
 

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I used "bourgeois" in a post a while back. But I used it ironically, so don't get mad. As for Nigel, I enjoyed his Elgar concerto way back when he looked perfectly normal. I read he started making an *** of himself with a contrived punk / new age look and act because as an excellent but ordinary-looking violinist, he was being ignored. We can't pretend that other classical music soloists haven't stretched the boundaries of good taste with their on-stage appearance to attract more attention. Moreover, over the years he seems to have improved his pop culture act so it's a bit more hip and a bit less silly. And hey, if it gets more people to listen to classical music, great. None of that stuff means anything to me one way or the other, though.
It's just show biz, like Yuja Wang's skin. And nonpolitical.
 

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But surely, one person's "pleasing aesthetic conventions" are not necessarily the same as another's? In fact, are any two persons absolutely identical in what they find aesthetically pleasing? Are your pleasing aesthetic conventions necessarily more valid than mine, or anyone else's?
Ironically, since the early 20th-century, the aesthetic standards of the groups purportedly served by the progressive deconstruction of 'traditional' artistic forms have tended to be much more conservative than the vanguard producing the art. It's mainly educated, institutionalised and upper-middle class white people creating and consuming avant-grade art.

This "intense" ideology and "loaded" political agenda that you claim exists in most modern art -- Is it a wide range of differing ideologies and agendas, or a single narrow one? Do you think that agenda generally is leftist, or liberal, or socialist, or communist?
I find this a little naive, but that could be just me.

Do you consider yourself leftist, or liberal, or socialist, or communist? If not, then how can you honestly and objectively characterize your negative response to it as non-political?
Firstly, It is simply objective to observe that aesthetic skill/craft has been increasingly de-emphasised in modern visual art since Dadaism and personalities like Duchamp. I don't think its political to react with artistic indifference to aesthetic indifference! Do you? (To the contrary, I think its political to be attracted to this art, to frequent otherwise ordinary exhibitions, skill wise, because you want to support the 'message').

Secondly, it is simply objective to observe that, where aesthetic skill/craft has not been de-emphasised, exactly, so much as redirected towards obscurity (as in avant-garde classical music), audience numbers have plummeted. I don't think this mass avoidance of modern classical music is political! Do you?

As I mentioned above, Dante's Divine Comedy is intensely political in many respects, even dealing with specific political figures and situations of his own day, some involving him personally. Does this prevent the Divine Comedy from being aesthetically pleasing?
I am not of the view that art with political components cannot be pleasing. However, I am also not of the view that any meaningful comparison exists between the marriage of politics and aesthetics in Dante and the same marriage in, say, this:


As is well known, Beethoven, who had pro-democratic, anti-royalist and aristocratic leanings (however muddled and inconsistent his political ideas may have been) originally dedicated his third symphony to Napoleon, but changed his mind after Napoleon declared himself Emperor of France. The symphony arguably evokes heroic revolution in various ways, and could be viewed as "leftist" music by the standards of his era. Does this political background prevent the symphony from being aesthetically pleasing?
I would like more justification for the supposedly 'leftist' nature of Beethoven's symphonies, as opposed to what it subjectively evokes for you as an individual...I don't believe Beethoven's symphonies to be particularly political, at all, as opposed to spiritual/metaphysical/emotional. But anyway, I never said political art is bad, across the board. My original comments related to modern art. Any 'activism' present in Beethoven, and the view of human nature and civilisation that he celebrated, would be deemed downright oppressive to the early 21st-century artistic vanguard. Why? Because things have moved on, drastically. The amount of power and vitality in Beethoven is far too confronting for the modern arts, which are more interested in vulnerability, victimhood and inclusiveness/diversity, or else irony and kitsch.
 

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To some extent, all artists are like the rest of us, caught up in a great river's current and floating along. Even rebels can depart only so far from the norm.
It's the legacy of Modernism that rebellion has itself become the norm. Revolutionaries and innovators can become fashionable so quickly that it must give them an identity crisis. The bourgeoisie is no longer shockable. What? A keenly anticipated museum opening for the cutting-edge creator of the burlap, plexiglass and Gorilla Glue installation "S & M Among the Sisters of St. Cecilia"? Yeah, well... Hey, what's on Netflix, Gladys?
 

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Therefore, orchestras without conductors (persimfans, Orpheus) are also political, celebrating equality and self-reliance as opposed to hierarchy and control. I would be interested in learning if anything is not political--the net cast is so broad that both whales and plankton are engulfed.
Just my 2¢, but I think that ensembles WITH conductors tend to have more depth, and I like watching the conductor "express" the music as it happens (or perhaps it's 'before' it happens). Yes, of course, there's more 'control'. "Control" itself is not necessarily a 'bad' thing. For an orchestra it often keeps the music crisp, and everyone on the same trajectory.

One COULD use the same argument when speaking of the composer of a work of music. What if symphony orchestras celebrated equality and self-reliance by not having a composer to guide the music. Wonderful: No hierarchy putting the composer above the wishes of the players, no one person dictating what and how the orchestra will play. Leave it up to the players to decide.

Yeah, a very silly notion. Others have pointed out other situations where it's a great idea to have someone leading a team of people working on a project. It could be some open heart surgery, or a building a house . . . someone has to actually be at the controls or everything just goes to Holy Hell.

But HERE's a suggestion: I think that it might be nice to let the members of the orchestra take turns conducting pieces . . . now THAT would celebrate "equality and self-reliance".
 

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Ironically, since the early 20th-century, the aesthetic standards of the groups purportedly served by the progressive deconstruction of 'traditional' artistic forms have tended to be much more conservative than the vanguard producing the art. It's mainly educated, institutionalised and upper-middle class white people creating and consuming avant-grade art.

I find this a little naive, but that could be just me.

One does not need to be conservative to perceive historical trends as they are. By the same token, one can be conservative and perceive historical trends as they are, too. What matters is the validity of a statement, not who is making it.

I challenge you to find me a single out-spoken, conservative artist alive today who is being supported and pushed by the cultural establishment (universities, media, artistic institutions). I challenge you to find me a single, newly developed, exhibition in an current art gallery that is explicitly conservative akin to this kind of thing. I challenge you to find me a single film made since 2000 that is explicitly conservative that has been pushed by a major studio. I could go on....

I am not of the view that art with political components cannot be pleasing. However, I am not of the opinion that there is a meaningful comparison between the marriage of politics and aesthetics in Dante with a similar marriage in, say, this.

I would like more justification for the supposedly 'leftist' nature of Beethoven's symphonies, as opposed to what it subjectively evokes for you as an individual... But even if you are correct, I would say say that the link between politics and art has accelerated massively since Beethoven's time, such that form is much more intimately wedded to ideology now. I never said political art is bad, across the board. My original comments related to modern art.

Also, I hope you realise that any 'activism' present in Beethoven, and the view of human nature that he celebrated, would be deemed downright oppressive to the early 21st-century artistic vanguard.
I'll only respond briefly, and only with respect to the two links in your post labelled "this".

The first seems to be a program or series of exhibits of the National Gallery of Australia "celebrating" women artists and "their contribution to Australia's cultural life." You may be glad to learn that my general response to this kind of thing is "yuck". Putting together an exhibit of artists who have little in common other than the fact they are all women, in a clumsy and ineffectual token attempt to compensate for past gender discrimination of a wide variety of types and in a wide variety of contexts and places, perhaps not without a touch of hypocrisy because one of the historic leaders in that grand tradition of discrimination was -- perhaps -- the National Gallery of Australia, and now its directors want to feel better about themselves and look better in today's pro-gender equality political climate? No, thanks.

The bad news for you is that this kind of thing is a classic politically conservative ploy: Symbolic lip service to gender equality by an establishment institution that accomplishes very little real reform. I'm sure the living artists involved, though they agreed to participate, want recognition as artists, not as female artists. But unlike you, I don't care if it's conservative or liberal. I'm not interested.

As for your second example, whatever you think of things like that, they comprise a tiny niche of what might be called modern art, though one that is sometimes highly publicized by the mainstream media. I happen to think there is a place for those who seek to shock and outrage, as we always need to re-examine our values, even those we think are our most basic ones. There is plenty of that kind of thing in ancient and medieval art, though the English Victorian era put a damper on it. However, I think those things deserve only a small place in the wide artistic world, and that usually is all they have. As for the woman pulling knitting wool out of her ******, isn't that a reference to an offensive stereotype of Australia as a country full of nothing but sheep? I disapprove.
 

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The bad news for you is that this kind of thing is a classic politically conservative ploy: Symbolic lip service to gender equality by an establishment institution that accomplishes very little real reform. I'm sure the living artists involved, though they agreed to participate, want recognition as artists, not as female artists. But unlike you, I don't care if it's conservative or liberal. I'm not interested.
I didn't realise you are a one-man news room. Ok then. Your editor, which I assume is you, needs to be fired, as he has forgotten to come in from the fairies.

Politically conservative ploy indeed.... Next you'll be saying black is white and up is down.

I happen to think there is a place for those who seek to shock and outrage, as we always need to re-examine our values, even those we think are our most basic ones.
But only those values which give the majority a sense of comfort and meaning under the status-quo! Never the fundamental assumptions of the ones doing the shocking and outraging, eh?! No no no, that would see you loose your arts grant!

There is plenty of that kind of thing in ancient and medieval art.
Is there. Is there indeed?
 

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Are there really any young composers working today whose main aim is to shock ? I wish there were! But I can't think of anyone off the top of my head. "Pussy" Riot shock, but it's certainly not their main aim. Lachenmann wanted to shock with Pression maybe, but that was a brief phase in his work and anyway, it was a long long time ago.
 
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