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Why not?

Artists, poets, songwriters, musicians, can have strong political views and those views often drive their work. If it bothers you, the solution is simply to avoid that artist's work.
Just as the post above mine said. I have no problem with artists promoting political views in their art (although to a certain extent, with some exceptions, I find political art is usually of lower quality). However, the issue is they're changing and using Beethoven's art to promote their political viewpoints.
 

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Just as the post above mine said. I have no problem with artists promoting political views in their art (although to a certain extent, with some exceptions, I find political art is usually of lower quality). However, the issue is they're changing and using Beethoven's art to promote their political viewpoints.
I don't see a problem. They aren't changing the music so much as using new texts. And it is questionable how political the new texts are. They seem to reflect new language for the same or similar themes of the original.

While it is an unusual approach to performing this symphony, the Schiller text for the 9th symphony is not sacrosanct.
 

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I don't see a problem. They aren't changing the music so much as using new texts. And it is questionable how political the new texts are. They seem to reflect new language for the same or similar themes of the original.

While it is an unusual approach to performing this symphony, the Schiller text for the 9th symphony is not sacrosanct.
Yes, they are changing the texts in a way that promotes their political viewpoints. The Schiller text is not sacrosanct, although it is quite a good poem, so I see no need to change it; however, I have previously stated I have no issue with some of the other apolitical rewritings.
 

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Yes, they are changing the texts in a way that promotes their political viewpoints. The Schiller text is not sacrosanct, although it is quite a good poem, so I see no need to change it; however, I have previously stated I have no issue with some of the other apolitical rewritings.
The thing is, the Schiller text selections say what Beethoven wanted to say in his work, and they say it quite sufficiently.
 

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Yes, they are changing the texts in a way that promotes their political viewpoints. The Schiller text is not sacrosanct, although it is quite a good poem, so I see no need to change it; however, I have previously stated I have no issue with some of the other apolitical rewritings.
(I don't agree that the new texts are necessarily political) but let's say they did change the texts to reflect their political beliefs, you have't offered any objective reason why this is a bad thing. You've just indicated your personal aversion to it being done.

"Marin Alsop reimagines Beethoven's Ninth Symphony as a 21st-century call for unity, justice, and empowerment." (BSO website)

"In Baltimore, the new text has been created by rap artist, Wordsmith. For our final performance at Carnegie Hall, former U.S. Poet Laureate, Tracey K. Smith will do the honors. In Africa, the new text will be in Zulu; in New Zealand in the te reo Māori language but, above all, Beethoven's (and Schiller's) themes of unity, tolerance, equality, love and joy will shine through to touch new generations." (Marin Alsop on NPR)

What is your objection to this message?
 

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This is a discussion forum. If you post an opinion with no evidence, surely it is not unreasonable to ask for evidence? I set up the dichotomy because I honestly wish to clarify which side of it you fall on. You have no obligation to provide evidence for your views, or clarify what your views are, but I thought this was the point of discussing things on a forum like this, no?
I know this is a discussion forum. I don't know how you're expecting me to answer, apart from what I've already said. You know what side I'm on? My side. That's it. I'm sorry I can't be any more clear than that.


Of course he has artistic license. I have already posted that I have no issue with Smith's poem, which is very different from the original but also largely apolitical. I hardly think changing a composer's work because you see it as no longer relevant to society if you performed the work in the original form is exactly what I would describe as a commemoration or homage, but I accept this is maybe what Alsop was, unsuccessfully in my view, going for. Finally, I don't think Wordsmith and Alsop got together and created a secret plan to convey their political opinions to the masses and are now enacting it, but it is rather obvious they are (or at least Wordsmith), nevertheless, using this to express some of their political opinions, which is what I disagree with.
I understand the distinction you're making between the two poems. My opinion is that they are merely contrasting responses to Ode to Joy, and therefore both fulfill the aims of this Beethoven 250 project which was to attract different responses to the original. Wordsmith has fulfilled the brief of the project, as has Smith. If you see them as being different, there's no problem, because they're meant to be. That's as simply as I can put it to you.
 

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What is your objection to this message?
Speaking for myself, my objection is to using Beethoven's voice to put across their own message, which might or might not have aligned with their views on "unity, justice and empowerment" (well-worn tag words of a certain political attitude). Write your own work putting forth the message. Imagine instead of "reimagine".
 

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The worst political manipulation of this piece involved a performance of the original. I mentioned it earlier in the thread. The one in Berlin conducted by Furtwangler in 1942.


I don't agree that the Beethoven 250 project is political (or woke or whatever) in intent, but even if it is, let's look at how ideology worked in reality in 1942:

- Members of the orchestra who where Jewish were dismissed, many would have been deported to the death camps, or at best refugees abroad.

- Same goes with audience members, a large proportion of whom had been Jewish.

- Imposition of cultural policy which forbade music by Jewish composers (e.g. Mendelssohn, Mahler) and also other music classed as degenerate (and restrictions on some types of music, such as jazz).

- It was mandatory for those who remained in employment as public servants (including musicians in academic posts) to swear an oath of allegiance to Hitler.

The concert is like a strange pantomime involving Furtwangler (who tried to keep out of politics, but with mixed results), war criminals in the audience (including Goebbels at 1:33) and its probably Konrad Adenauer (at 3:48) who was in opposition to the Nazis but was also imprisoned by them (he became chancellor of West Germany after the war).

Its obviously a spectacle as well as a political showcase for National Socialism (e.g. swastika prominently displayed). Everyone was enlisted to go through the motions - including poor old Beethoven, it seems - to glorify the most toxic ideology which resulted in an estimated 18 million deaths.

So, given this sort of history, a nadir has been reached with Beethoven 9th already. I think that this is widely known (indeed, the fictional A Clockwork Orange pretty much made this the big plot twist in the story, but somewhat more in the movie than in the book). Anyone touching this symphony would want to avoid anything even remotely resembling this sort of political manipulation. Beethoven 250 comes nowhere near close.
 

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^ The fact that Nazis or Nazi sympathizers played Beethoven says absolutely nothing about the music and it doesn't put Beethoven's seal of approval on the regime. I've read somewhere (maybe Wiki) that Bach's BWV 80 was a Nazi staple as well. So what? It doesn't "contaminate" the work itself somehow. I'm sure Brahms etc was also played in Nazi Germany. And at the very least as far as I know they didn't replace the text with an ode to Hitler.
 

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^ The fact that Nazis or Nazi sympathizers played Beethoven says absolutely nothing about the music and it doesn't put Beethoven's seal of approval on the regime. I've read somewhere (maybe Wiki) that Bach's BWV 80 was a Nazi staple as well. So what? It doesn't "contaminate" the work itself somehow. I'm sure Brahms etc was also played in Nazi Germany. And at the very least as far as I know they didn't replace the text with an ode to Hitler.
absolutely! Neither does the fact that the murderous Stalin’s favourite recording was Mozart’s Piano Concerto 23 contaminate Mozart. Just means that even psychopaths can have good musical taste.
 

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I simply read Sid's post as pointing out that enlisting music for political purposes is not new, and it takes different forms, not just 'reimagining".

Whilst I doubt that LvB was really interested in a brotherhood of all 'men', regardless of race, colour, gender etc (he just wanted to write music about it - he wasn't an activist, was he?) it seems reasonable to me to take the idea at face value and examine what such an idea might mean in 2020.
 

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Just to repeat, my point had nothing to do with alteration of the text. As I've said before, they've been altered many times - e.g. as pop or hymn tunes - which is natural, given that its a popular tune long out of copyright. I think that the way they've been altered for the Beethoven 250 project is appropriate for a commemorative event of this kind.

I drew a parallel with the Nazis because members here are saying that the Beethoven 250 project has a political agenda. My argument is that even if it does (and to repeat, I don't think it has), it pales in comparison with what the Nazis did to Beethoven's 9th. They used this piece, as well as other pieces in the classical canon, as part of a systematic reassignment of cultural policy which had direct impact on people's lives.

It's obvious that policies such as what I outlined have political origins. They arise out of law. Therefore, comparing them to a commemorative project like the present one is logically unsound. The Beethoven 250 project is only concerned with one event, it isn't part of anything bigger or in some ways insidious. Authorities in control of arts funding would have had to give the proposal some deal of scrutiny before allowing it to happen.

Even if we forget everything else, and the same measures where taken in 2022 to what we see in the Berlin 1942 film, people would understandably be outraged, - e.g. having an orchestra where certain minorities are excluded, a select audience (most of them being members of the same political party), a political flag on display (what if it where the rainbow flag?), the program of the concert being subject to censorship, and so on.

None of the above is happening in 2022, quite the opposite. I don't see any need for alarm.
 

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I don't think the project is necessarily overtly political. However, for some everything is political, and a certain degree of politicization is going to creep in, inevitably.
 

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^ You said before that at least the Nazis "didn't replace the text with an ode to Hitler." I did a bit of research. What about the old Republic of Rhodesia, then? They used the tune with new lyrics as their national anthem. The lyrics are benign, but its the context which is important. This was the anthem of a country which imposed the racist ideology of apartheid. So, I guess your alarm bells are ringing again, the lyrics have been changed, oh no. But that itself doesn't matter, its the purpose for which the tune has been used that matters.

I use this to further illustrate my point - the Beethoven 250 project isn't about fiddling with the work or the lyrics for some political agenda. It is what it says - purely a commemorative event.

 

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What about the old Republic of Rhodesia, then?
Well I would disapprove of that too.
I use this to further illustrate my point - the Beethoven 250 project isn't about fiddling with the work or the lyrics for some political agenda. It is what it says - purely a commemorative event.
OK...so then why "fiddle with it" at all? Why not commemorate with a performance of the work as it appears on paper?
 

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Well I would disapprove of that too.
So do I, but it can't stop anyone - even those serving the worst political ideologies - from using this tune for such purposes. Everyone has had takes on classical tunes that are out of copyright for ages. I don't see why the Beethoven song is more sacred than anything else.

OK...so then why "fiddle with it" at all? Why not commemorate with a performance of the work as it appears on paper?
We've gone over this ad nauseum here already. Its merely a different way to commemorate Beethoven's anniversary.
 

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So do I, but it can't stop anyone - even those serving the worst political ideologies - from using this tune for such purposes. Everyone has had takes on classical tunes that are out of copyright for ages. I don't see why the Beethoven song is more sacred than anything else.
But that doesn't mean I can't object to it. It isn't more "sacred". I would object to any composer's work being treated in that manner, with incongruities thrown in. It's kind of disingenuous to me to say that is in honor of Beethoven. It...really isn't, let's be honest.
We've gone over this ad nauseum here already. Its merely a different way to commemorate Beethoven's anniversary.
But the question is why is it different and what are those differences.
 

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But that doesn't mean I can't object to it. It isn't more "sacred". I would object to any composer's work being treated in that manner, with incongruities thrown in. It's kind of disingenuous to me to say that is in honor of Beethoven. It...really isn't, let's be honest.
We've gone through this before. Its okay to object, and if it its purpose isn't to commemorate, what is it? Again, we've discussed this and I'm not convinced of any political agenda at work in Beethoven 250.

But the question is why is it different and what are those differences.
We've gone through that as well. I mentioned postmodernism, and you said that's an agenda in itself.

Honestly, we've long hit the point where we have to agree to disagree on this. I don't see a need for us to discuss this further, unless you enjoy going around in circles.
 

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We've gone through this before. Its okay to object, and if it its purpose isn't to commemorate, what is it? Again, we've discussed this and I'm not convinced of any political agenda at work in Beethoven 250.

We've gone through that as well. I mentioned postmodernism, and you said that's an agenda in itself.

Honestly, we've long hit the point where we have to agree to disagree on this. I don't see a need for us to discuss this further, unless you enjoy going around in circles.
It doesn't matter ultimately anyway. This will be (was?) yet another "postmodernist"-tinged burp in the wind and tomorrow people will still be listening to the actual Beethoven. It doesn't fill me with rage or anything. I'm more irritated with the thought processes behind such things than with the (usually forgettable) end result.
 
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