Music and Politics is an open access, peer-reviewed, academic journal first published in 2007. More...


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  • Paul Anderson (University of Michigan)
  • Paul Attinello (University of Newcastle)
  • Laura Basini (California State University)
  • Michael Beckerman (New York University)
  • Andrea F. Bohlman (UNC Chapel Hill)
  • Timothy J. Cooley (UC Santa Barbara)
  • James R. Currie (University at Buffalo)
  • Dick Flacks (UC Santa Barbara)
  • Shirli Gilbert (University of Southampton)
  • Nancy Guy (UC San Diego)
  • Áine Heneghan (University of Michigan)
  • Pamela Potter (University of Wisconsin)
  • Tricia Rose (Brown University)
  • Silvio J. dos Santos (University of Florida)
  • Jeremy Smith (University of Colorado)
  • Joseph N. Straus (CUNY)

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Volume XI, Number 1 (2017) Current Issue

World Music and Activism Since the End of History [sic]

Peter Manuel

While the decline of protest music in the USA has often been noted, a global perspective reveals that progressive, activist protest musics occupied lively niches in many music cultures worldwide (e.g., of Jamaica, India, Spain, Latin America) during similar periods, roughly the 1950s-80s. While on one level these music movements were embedded in particular socio-political movements, on a broader level they reflected an ardent commitment to the secular universalist ideals of the Enlightenment. The subsequent dramatic decline of all these protest musics—roughly since Fukuyama’s much-debated “end of history”—reflects a broader transformation of the global political climate. This transformation has both salutary aspects—notably the spread of democracies—and dismaying ones, notably the decline of Enlightenment metanarratives and their replacement by new tribalisms, which have found their own passionate expression in music.

The Institute of Musicology at the Ludwig Maximilian University during National Socialism: the Career of the Wagner Scholar Alfred Lorenz

William Kinderman

The career of Alfred Lorenz, who published four analytical studies of Wagner’s works between 1924 and 1933, merits reevaluation based on documents held in the archives of the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich. Lorenz was passionately committed to National Socialism, and proudly joined the party before Hitler’s rise to power. During the 1930s, Lorenz published numerous propagandistic essays advocating Nazi ideology and racial purity. Similarly, in his still-overestimated study of Parsifal, Lorenz claims to perceive Wagner’s “prophetic thoughts about leadership of the Führer,” identifying the redeemer-figure Parsifal with Hitler, leader of “New Germany” at the outset of the Third Reich.

Music, Horses, and Exotic Others: Early-Modern Processions, Tournaments, and Pageants

Ralph P. Locke

In Europe, during the Early Modern Period (ca. 1500-1800), lands and peoples that were located far away were often perceived, by inhabitants of a European land, as somehow exotic: that is, as different from “Here” and “Us.” Rarely mentioned in discussions of “music and the exotic” are certain important and highly formalized events that were put on by major European courts, that mainly occurred out of doors, and that often made use of horses: namely processions (often pageant-like), jousts, tournaments, and equestrian ballets. Several French and Italian courts represented the exotic Other in distinctive ways at such events. A notable series of events took place in 1565 during the politically fraught visit of the young French king Charles IX and his mother, Catherine de’ Medici, to Bayonne. Detailed accounts of the Bayonne séjour reveal instances in which foreigners were portrayed, including Turks, “Moors,” American “savages,” an Amazon warrior (from an unknown distant land), and legendary sorceresses from Syria and Cathay, and also rural French villagers (arguably a “foreign” group, from the viewpoint of Paris-based aristocrats and their Spanish guests). These portrayals reflected struggles among the major European powers over religion, territory, and overseas empire and struggles between Europe and the Ottoman Empire over control of the Mediterranean and Eastern Europe.

Silent City: A Commemoration of Halabja’s Tragedy

Mehrenegar Rostami

The musical collaboration of musicians of The Silk Road Ensemble in one of their well-received pieces, Silent City, commemorates Saddam Hussein’s chemical attack in 1988 on the Iraqi Kurdish city of Halabja. Silent City was composed by the prominent Iranian kamancheh virtuoso, Kayhan Kalhor, for the Silk Road Ensemble in 2005. The musical collaboration of members of The Silk Road Ensemble serves as a case study to demonstrate how the commemoration of the victims of Halabja in their performance evinces the duty to remember for the sake of promoting justice in accordance with the logic of hope. It also asks how the memories of conflict and war are reflected in the music that incorporates elements of different musical traditions. The Silk Road Ensemble’s performance of Silent City, as I argue, not only memorializes this tragic event and raise awareness but also provides a model for peaceful interactions that fosters a sense of intercultural hospitality.

The Death of Tamaki Miura: Performing Madama Butterfly during the Allied Occupation of Japan

Kunio Hara

Although Japanese soprano Tamaki Miura attempted to revive her career shortly after the conclusion of World War II, it was not until her recital on March 21, 1946, in which it became apparent that she was severely ill, that the Japanese media began to pay close attention to her activities. In an attempt to capture the sound of the once world-famous soprano, Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK) arranged three recording sessions with Miura in April, which included an excerpted performance of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. From then to several months immediately following her death on May 26, multiple newspapers including Asahi Shimbun, Jiji Shimpō, Mainichi Shimbun, Tōkyō Shimbun, Yomiuri Shimbun, and others printed articles of various lengths recounting her battles with the illness and, after her passing, commemorating her career. At least three recurring patterns are observable in these and other texts that deal with Miura’s final days: the repeated identification of Miura with the fictional character of Cio-Cio-San, the obsessive attention paid to Miura’s failing body and voice, and the use of Miura’s unflattering demise as a metaphor of Japan in the aftermath of the war.