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I don't know the extent to which modern art is politicized today. I would simply like to point out that totalitarian regimes have generally been leery if not outright hostile to music that did not conform to the traditional standards.
 

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Discussion Starter · #23 · (Edited)
View attachment 150127

Anton Webern, whose patrionism "led him to endorse the Nazi regime in a series of letters to Joseph Hueber, who was serving in the army and himself held such views. Webern described Hitler on 2 May 1940, as "this unique man" who created "the new state" of Germany." Louis Krasner was "particularly troubled by a 1936 conversation with Webern about the Jews, in which Webern expressed his vague but unambiguously anti-Semitic opinion that "Even Schoenberg, had he not been a Jew, would have been quite different!"
Wow, is that a photograph of Webern? If so, I've never seen it. From the above, it's no wonder that Schoenberg was upset with Webern. Webern seems to this point to have so far escaped the Nazi connection, but I see it's beginning to surface.

Also, Boulez declared Webern to be the most important serialist, and thus 'flaunted' Webern in the face of the French after Germany had invaded France in WWII. He was aware that this probably went against the grain of French aesthetes, but Pierre was a "punk."

Now that I know more about Webern's sympathies, it makes Boulez' celebration of Webern seem even more pernicious and suspect. Perhaps Boulez had a little bit of that Webern sentiment as well? I wonder, since France as well has had a streak of antisemitism in its culture. Boulez as antisemitic? Perhaps this is too "PC" of me; perhaps not.
 

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I'm disappointed to learn that Webern had some nice things to say about Hitler. Then again, Luigi Dallapiccola also supported Mussolini up until Mussolini ordered the invasion of Abyssinia and then aligned himself with Hitler and brought Hitler's master race philosophy to Italy; which affected Dallapiccola personally as his wife was Jewish. If anyone could somehow make 12-tone music sound bouncy and bright it was Dallapiccola, but his music takes a darker turn after he became disillusioned with Mussolini.

Along a similar line, Webern does seem to praise Hitler some time prior to the war and the holocaust, the same as Dallapiccola praised Mussolini prior to the invasion of Abyssinia. So who knows how Webern's views would have evolved had he lived to see the full cost that Hitler's regime cost Germany and all of Europe?

Ironically, in a way, it was Hitler and the war that killed Webern. Wasn't he accidentally shot by an American soldier?
 

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I don't know; ask Ligeti. "Liberalism" as I'm using it is a convenient term, used to contrast with "conservative." But you knew that.

As to the rest of it, I'm just making an observation about this forum. There are a lot of conservatives here, who relate only to their brand of classical music, and reject modern music because it's too "liberal." I didn't realize how widespread this attitude is, and never made the explicit connection with politics...until lately.

This makes me realize how fruitless is is to engage in dialogue with them. They can never be "converted" or even expected to be tolerant of modern music and its fans. We are "the enemy."
This thread is going to have problems.

The terms "liberal" and "conservative" themselves have political connotations, although by definition do not necessarily mean liberal/conservative in the political sense.

When these terms are applied in a non-political way to music, specifically to Classical music, then you are, I assume, speaking to it's "traditional" and "developing" genres/styles.

Of course, popular music, on the other hand, can be pointed political, and one can certainly point to classical music works that are as well.

I'm predicting that the discussion in this thread will deteriorate due to the vagueness of terminology.
 

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Discussion Starter · #27 · (Edited)
I'm disappointed to learn that Webern had some nice things to say about Hitler. Then again, Luigi Dallapiccola was also supported Mussolini up until Mussolini ordered the invasion of Abyssinia and then aligned himself with Hitler and brought Hitler's master race philosophy to Italy; which affected Dallapiccola personally as his wife was Jewish. If anyone could somehow make 12-tone music sound bouncy and bright it was Dallapiccola, but his music takes a darker turn after he became disillusioned with Mussolini.

Along a similar line, Webern does seem to praise Hitler some time prior to the war and the holocaust, the same as Dallapiccola praised Mussolini prior to the invasion of Abyssinia. So who knows how Webern's views would have evolved had he lived to see the full cost that Hitler's regime cost Germany and all of Europe?

Ironically, in a way, it was Hitler and the war that killed Webern. Wasn't he accidentally shot by an American soldier?
Karmic coincidence? Who knows. I'm glad to hear that Dallapiccola didn't directly like Hitler. What you're saying is "give them a break," and I agree. It's like forgiving somebody who voted for Trump early on, before seeing what a mess he made of things.

"It Can't Happen Here" as the old Frank Zappa song said. The lyric has new poignancy these days:

"Who could imagine that they would freak out in...Washington D.C."

 

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Karmic coincidence? Who knows. I'm glad to hear that Dallapiccola didn't directly like Hitler. What you're saying is "give them a break," and I agree. It's like forgiving somebody who voted for Trump early on, before seeing what a mess he made of things.

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I'm still on the fence about this. With Trump, there were plenty of warnings, red flags, lawsuits, wacky utterances, weird ramblings, and racism/misogynism/bigotry that should have tipped EVERYONE off from the get-go.

But millions of people saw a pig, and thought, yeah, I'll vote for the pig.
 

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Discussion Starter · #29 ·
I'm still on the fence about this. With Trump, there were plenty of warnings, red flags, lawsuits, wacky utterances, weird ramblings, and racism/misogynism/bigotry that should have tipped EVERYONE off from the get-go.

But millions of people saw a pig, and thought, yeah, I'll vote for the pig.
If someone was an "issues" voter, and voted for Trump because of his views on illegal (undocumented) immigration, then I can forgive them.
 

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Is there any composer, alive and kicking today, who is expressing ideas about equality and social justice through their instrumental work? I don’t mean 12 operas or songs. I mean instrumental music.

Is it possible today? Was it ever possible?
 

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I've always felt that instrumental music can express very little besides broad emotions. Many works, in theory, are intended to convey scenes or ideas (Stockhausen's Gruppen, Strauss's Ein Heldenleben and Eine Alpensinfonie, Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique). I can't believe anyone would have the slightest idea about the intended scenes or ideas from the music alone.

The only music that can be clearly political is music with words, music with actions (e.g. ballet or video), or music accompanied by written content.
 

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What about Beethoven in the Appassionata sonata? Doesn't that piece embody a sense of struggle, an opposition to the way in which previous music reflected an immutable divine order.

And what about Cornelius Cardew's Treatise?
 

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Brandenburg 5/i is another example. The way the lowly harpsichord rebels against her "station in life" and eventually takes centre stage -- this music expresses ideals about social equality. Obvs.
You are kidding with this, right?
 

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What about Beethoven in the Appassionata sonata? Doesn't that piece embody a sense of struggle, an opposition to the way in which previous music reflected an immutable divine order.

And what about Cornelius Cardew's Treatise?
Maybe I'm confused by what you are saying, but what about any music could possibly give someone any sense of a god much less an immutable divine order? If someone is already aware that many composers wrote cantatas, masses, oratorios that focused on religious issues, then one might assume other music would have a similar basis. But the pure music itself does not have any semantic content.
 

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. But the pure music itself does not have any semantic content.
It has structural features, symmetries; different types of interactions between voices, instruments; expressive content of timbre, pitch, tempo; it has extramusical relations too - intertextual, for example, and the conventions of the time when it was written.

Have a listen again to the first movement of Brandenburg 5 or the Eroica Symphony.
 

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It has structural features, symmetries; different types of interactions between voices, instruments; expressive content of timbre, pitch, tempo; it has extramusical relations too - intertextual, for example, and the conventions of the time when it was written.

Have a listen again to the first movement of Brandenburg 5 or the Eroica Symphony.
I think you have to be careful about generally stating there are extramusical relations since we're talking only about the music. What I need to know is how a composer would communicate the notion of poor people rebelling against governments by only using music. How would anyone differentiate that music from music that tried to communicate people fleeing a fire or a race between swordfish?
 

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It has structural features, symmetries; different types of interactions between voices, instruments; expressive content of timbre, pitch, tempo; it has extramusical relations too - intertextual, for example, and the conventions of the time when it was written.

Have a listen again to the first movement of Brandenburg 5 or the Eroica Symphony.
Yes, I thought it was widely accepted that the Eroica symphony was written in reaction to Napoleon's attempt to liberate the common man from European aristocracy. I've known this for so long that it's hard to listen to the magnificent music and not think of this. Swafford makes quite a case for it in his biography of Beethoven. And to him other works of Beethoven express more personal types of struggles.
 
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