Music Politics and Protest week 9
Music Politics and Protest week 9
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Date Created: 05/31/14
Music 800 Music Politics and Protest Political agendas in selected 20thcentury classical music compositions Guest lecture by Leta Miller May 30 2014 I Introduction A Questions about incorporating political references into classical music works Should a composer express political views in his her music Does doing so stamp a date on the pieces so that they are not relevant in the future Does doing so cheapen the works depriving them of universal attraction B Can instrumental music without text express protest Do auditors need to be familiar with certain conventions to understand the meaning C Today examples of two 20th 21 century composers Lou Harrison 19172003 Aaron ay Kernis 1960 II Lou Harrison A Introduction biography and musical contributions California composer lived most of life here in Aptos Continuing interplay between his political ideas and his art Pacifist Built his own instruments Wrote music for dancers often expressing political causes eg the Spanish Civil War 1930s Idealist his music integrates Western and Asian instruments and musical styles B Example 1 Mass to St Anthony 1939 1 Introduction Written in response to Hitler39s invasion of Poland on Sept 1 1939 Harrison wrote piece on a cable car in San Francisco Text is apolitical Catholic mass text Setting is for percussion orchestra with chorus 2 Movement 1 Kyrie Words Lord have mercy Christ have mercy Evocation of the Nazi army through rhythms and choice of percussion instruments Instruments used Vibraphone Snare drum Field drums Bass drums Brake drums In 2001 added a piccolo Audio example 1 Harrison Mass to St Anthony Kyrie 3 Movement 2 Gloria Words lengthy text in praise of God Evocation of the bells of churches around the world in hope for peace Instruments metal percussion suggesting bell sounds piano suggesting a gong Audio example 2 Harrison Mass to St Anthony Gloria C Example 2 Paczfika Rondo 1963 1 Background Harrison devastated by WW2 bombing of apan Protested against nuclear testing in the 1950s 1960s Friend Victor owers died of aplastic anemia at age 39 from viewing open air tests Used a Geiger counter in a piece called Political Primer 1959 Spoke out publicly example Crackpot lecture on radio KPFA Audio example 3 Harrison speaking on KPFA 2 Introduction to the piece Instrumental work no text composed in 1963 Title in Esperanto a universal language Political statement of cross cultural unity Evokes traditional musics from around the Pacific Rim Combines Western and Asian instruments 3 Audio examples 47 mvt 1 Family of the Court evokes Korean court music uses Korean p iri double reed instrument pak and percussion along with Western instruments mvt 2 quotPlay of Dolphins uses Chinese cheng psaltery and harp mvt 4 quotIn sequoia s shade uses cheng harp violin jalataranga tuned water bowls mvt 6 quotHatred of the Filthy Bomb a dissonant interruption within the piece no Asian instruments used extreme dissonance screams by conductor and members of the orchestra III Aaron ay Kernis A Introduction some of his major works awards b 1969 Lives in NY Still Movement with Hymn runner up for Pulitzer Prize 1994 Second string quartet won Pulitzer Prize 1998 Garden of Light commissioned by Disney for NY Philharmonic 1999 Color Wheel commissioned by Philadelphia Orchestra 2001 Colored Field won Grawemeyer Prize largest composition prize in world 2002 Pieces of Winter Sky runner up for Pulitzer 2012 B Example 1 Second Symphony 1991 1 Background Aug 2 1990 Iraq under Saddam Hussein invades Kuwait Gulf War Ian 1991 lasts about a month only sterile antiseptic video game war Feb 13 1991 Al Amiriyah shelter bombing Kernis s symphony in 3 movements fast slow fast his image the individual obliterated by the machine 2 Movement 2 quotAir Ground Air old English term for aria or song Ground an accompaniment figure in the the bass repeated over and over Opening descending motive in utes and ascending motive in clarinets simultaneously Then strikes on the bass drum Ground enters 4 ascending notes first played by violas Air expansive slow melody enters in clarinet Ground continues as accompaniment as the air unfolds Audio example 8 Kernis Second symphony mvt 2 beginning 3 Movement 3 Barricade Inspired by the shelter bombing Excerpt 1 foreboding brass melody interspersed with explosions in strings trombones percussion Audio example 9 Kernis Second symphony mvt 3 330425 Excerpt 2 End of symphony 4 percussionists beat on two large tam tams Deafening crescendo Audio example 10 Kernis Second symphony mvt 3 521 end Critical reaction from Pierre Ruhe Atlanta ournaI Constitution May 2004 The last minute of the symphony is an end to everything a percussion blast that obliterates all that came before it and then silence Nothingness Finito No catharsis no resolution Madmen munitions death C Example 2 New Era Dance 1992 commissioned for the 150th anniversary of the founding of the NY Phil 1842 oldest orchestra in US Fueled by images of the riots in LA after the acquittal of the 4 policemen in the Rodney King police brutality case and by racial violence in Atlanta Opening upbeat melody overpowered by taped electronic sounds sound effect recordings of explosions and fighter plane strafing used with the orchestra percussionists play sirens police whistles then devolves into a dance in uenced by salsa Audio example 11 Kernis New Era Dance beginning Ending return of the beginning chaos police whistle then orchestra chants New era Audio example 12 Kernis New Era Dance end Quote from review In New Era Dance a piece seemingly ripped from the streets of today s New York Kernis powerfully evokes the rage of people left out of the 20th century s vision of progress and also the hope that springs from their energy and indomitable spirit D Colored Field 1994 and Lament and Prayer 1995 Inspired by Kernis s 1989 visit to Nazi concentrations camps Auschwitz and Birkenau Concerto for English horn later rescored for cello and orchestra winner of Grawemeyer Prize Audio example 13 if time permits Kernis Colored Field beginning PLEASE DO NOT EXIT DURING THE FINAL HIGHLY EMOTIONAL EXAMPLE E Lament and Prayer 1995 marks the 50th anniversary of the end of WW2 Prayer for world peace and salvation unity amongst peoples Audio example 14 Kernis Lament and Prayer end