Inside the Music | Music & Politics | Contemporary | Classical

Ideological divisions and oppressive regimes had a significant impact on the first four decades of post-war music, particularly in Eastern Europe. The 15 symphonies of Shostakovich are now widely seen as political statements, sometimes overt, sometimes covert, as with the Tenth Symphony (1953) and its haunting depiction of Russia under Stalinism. Dissent also found expression in the music of Schnittke, whose use of serial techniques was sufficient to ensure his marginalization within the Soviet Union, and in works such as Miserere (1981) by Górecki, explicitly written in response to the crushing of Solidarity in Poland.

In the West, the turbulence of the late 1960s led some composers to challenge the political implications of contemporary modernism, which they saw as elitist and divorced from the needs of ordinary people. Composers such as Nono, however, saw political progress and the advance of musical modernism as interlinked, integrating modernist techniques with tapes of revolutionary speeches and everyday sounds and performing the results in workers’ canteens and factories.

Styles & Forms | Contemporary | Classical
Inside the Music | Serialism | Contemporary | Classical


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