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Music and Society: The Politics of Composition, Performance and Reception Paperback – 15 Jun 1989

4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (15 Jun. 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521379776
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521379779
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.3 x 22.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 702,235 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


'Among the year's most stimulating reading material' The Observer

'This is an important book, crowded … with new ideas and arguments that challenge many of our assumptions.' The Musical Times

' … most rewarding … As a collection of humanistic scholarship that amplifies the best sociological tradition … it is highly recommended.' Contemporary Sociology

Book Description

The writers here question a prevailing ideology that insists there is a division between music and society and examine the ways in which the two do in fact interact and mediate one another within and across socio-cultural boundaries.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x921fb5a0) out of 5 stars 2 reviews
HASH(0x92962cfc) out of 5 stars Four Stars 25 Oct. 2014
By Bruno - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
very fundamental for a shift of perspective. almost
39 of 89 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x921fd6a8) out of 5 stars there is no ambiguity about the political meaning of this 22 Sept. 1999
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
Who would deny "how very central music is to our understanding of ourselves"? Must we therefore also accept the conclusions drawn from this premise in [this book]: "Music passes from the separate sphere of the marginal-if-beautiful into the realities of the social world. If music thereby loses its aura, it is granted both the powers and responsibilities of a genuinely political medium." But if music is a "genuinely political medium," it must have a political message. What is that message? Can music that exploits folk elements in a way that led Bartok "to a new conception of the chromatic scale" properly fulfill its political "responsibilities"? Or is this only possible where an affiliation with folk song has the opposite implication, where it acts as an immunizing agent against the tendencies proscribed in the 1948 Resolution of the CCCP, "atonality, dissonances and disharmony"? Can "the powers and responsibilities of a genuinely political medium" as manifested in the music of the past have any relevance for our time? Whatever political meaning the Eroica Symphony may have had for Beethoven and may have for us stands utterly opposed to that which the Nazis were able to find in this same work and which enabled them to exploit it for their own political purposes. It has been suggested that "without words or strong folk elements, it is doubtful if music can convey a clear epic meaning." Die Meistersinger has both, but this did not prevent the Nazis from politically exploiting the work in ways that were totally at odds with what the American critic, Paul Rosenfeld, saw as its inherent content. He was revolted by "the image of an audience of Nazi porkers self-righteously taking in the concluding scene of the music drama, identifying their sinister Fascist state with the bright democratic order figured there, adopting the composer as their prophet and justifying their ways to men with his vision." How can a single work impart such totally different political messages and serve such totally different political purposes? There is, however, no ambiguity at all about what it means to "grant" to music "the powers and responsibilities of a genuinely political medium." To deprive music of its private and personal meaning for us would be to deprive us of privacy and personality, and there is no ambiguity about the political meaning of this--there is no ambiguity about the spiritual deprivation that permits a composer to say, in response to the Central Committee's Resolution, "How could it have happened that I failed to introduce a single folk song in the score of my opera? It seems strange and almost incredible to me, and can be explained only as a manifestation of my inherent snobbishness" (Muradeli). Or, "the absence, in my works, of the interpretation of folk art, that great spirit by which our people lives, has been with utmost clarity and definiteness pointed out by the Central Committee....I am deeply grateful for it" (Shostakovich). Or "I must admit that I, too, have indulged in atonality....In the future I hope to get rid of this mannerism" (Prokofiev).
George Perle, "The Listening Composer"
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