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Red StrainsMusic and Communism Outside the Communist Bloc$
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Robert Adlington

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780197265390

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197265390.001.0001

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‘Music Left and Right’

‘Music Left and Right’

A Tale of Two Histories of Progressive Music

(p.67) 7 ‘Music Left and Right’
Red Strains

Anne C. Shreffler

British Academy

What kinds of music have been considered to exemplify left-wing thought in non-communist countries at different times and places? This chapter chooses an intentionally simplistic model of two basic categories — Populist and Modernist — denoting music that is accessible to the masses on the one hand, and music that uses an advanced idiom in order to resist being co-opted by the commercial sphere or being used as a symbol of state power on the other. It proposes these categories as the articulation of two ideal types. The historiography of twentieth-century music in the United States understands Marxist music as intrinsically populist, whereas the modernist strain is almost completely unknown. In European historiography it is practically the reverse. So it is useful to outline these two perspectives for historiographical reasons alone. These models are illustrated and complicated through discussion of examples by Eisler, Copland, Schoenberg, and Nono.

Keywords:   communism, Populist, Modernist, historiography, Blitzstein, Adorno, Eisler, Copland, Schoenberg, Nono

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