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I wasn't thinking of abstract works but more likely operas or other works with a text or narrative program. However, knowing a composer's politics, a title can be enough to cause the work to be an overt political statement.
One question one might ask is, 100 years or more later, when the specific political context of the work is no longer relevant, is it still convincing? Inspiring? Thought provoking? We see political themes in visual art and literature all the time, including in works that are many centuries old. In most of those works, most of us would have to do some historical research even just to learn what the political context and message was. Dante's Divine Comedy is a good example. What about the operas of Shostakovich, The Nose and Lady Macbeth? Or Arlo Guthrie's Alice's Restaurant, with it's anti-Vietnam War message? Don't they have something to them that goes beyond their specific political context?
 

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I really see The People United's "theme" as almost a dedication (like the Eroica) as much as anything. There certainly are broader left-wing references in it, eg the use of the Bandiera Rossa and Die Moorsoldaten melodies but I don't think those are as important as the formal structure of the work as a polystylistic theme-and-variations piece. I don't know enough about the history of post-modern classical but he does do that polystylism a bit in his works- "Which Side Are You On" from North American Ballads is apparently a jokey reference to the whole avant-garde-versus-minimalist thing - it's a musical form he seemed to like returning to repeatedly.
 

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A reminder: even though this thread is in the Politics and Religion in Classical Music sub-forum, politics not directly related to music cannot be discussed. Posts that do so will be edited or deleted.
 

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I was responding to a post stating that the left-wing themes in some art are no longer relevant. I believe the context of social events and conditions which produced art is well under the purview of art criticism and analysis, though I don't want to push the issue too hard here.

Mainly just saying that it's difficult to respond to the idea that the social themes of a work aren't relevant without referencing politics at large
 

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One question one might ask is, 100 years or more later, when the specific political context of the work is no longer relevant, is it still convincing? Inspiring? Thought provoking? We see political themes in visual art and literature all the time, including in works that are many centuries old. In most of those works, most of us would have to do some historical research even just to learn what the political context and message was. Dante's Divine Comedy is a good example. What about the operas of Shostakovich, The Nose and Lady Macbeth? Or Arlo Guthrie's Alice's Restaurant, with it's anti-Vietnam War message? Don't they have something to them that goes beyond their specific political context?
I heard from song publishers and pluggers to not include any specific cultural references, brands, topical/political themes for this very reason. It date-stamped a song which in all likelihood would lose it relevance: "Here's a Quarter Call Someone Who Cares."

However, often a lyric's magic is in these little details. So it is a balancing act. Shakespeare managed to do it.
 

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When it comes to Rzewski, nobody can just listen to his music; it has to be viewed through the lens of a political and social context.
I just like the music. I hear Rzewski's empathy and humanity behind it, not his thoughts on policy

Same with Henze FWIW
 

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I heard from song publishers and pluggers to not include any specific cultural references, brands, topical/political themes for this very reason. It date-stamped a song which in all likelihood would lose it relevance: "Here's a Quarter Call Someone Who Cares."

However, often a lyric's magic is in these little details. So it is a balancing act. Shakespeare managed to do it.
Right. Shakespeare's Falstaff of Henry IV and V originally was named Sir John Oldcastle, an actual historical political figure, and a Lollard dissenter who was executed for heresy and treason. Late in the game, Shakespeare decided it would be a better idea to substitute a fictional name, but he didn't fully eradicate all signs of the original name. He certainly was sensitive to emphasizing more universal themes and avoiding contemporary political controversy.

Arlo Guthrie may not quite be a modern Shakespeare, but he also is clever about these things. He uses self-deprecating, ironic humor and a catchy tune to diffuse any dangerous controversy. In the end, the message is more about the absurdity of war, and human existence generally, than Vietnam.

I guess there's a lesson somewhere in all that.
 
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