(K. Brent Tomer),
POLITICS intruding on culture can be unnerving. Stalin restricted Shostakovich’s work in the name of state order. The Third Reich’s appropriation of Wagner prompted Israel to adopt an unofficial ban on his music. But music often leaves a greater legacy than diktats and propaganda. Shostakovich’s “Festive Overture”, composed after Stalin’s death, is remembered today as a towering symbol of freedom from musical dictatorship, and Israel’s unofficial ban on Wagner was cast aside by Daniel Barenboim and the Berlin Staatskapelle orchestra in 2001. Two years earlier Mr Barenboim had set up the West-Eastern Divan orchestra—comprised principally of Israelis and Palestinians—in order to show that differences may be settled through understanding and co-operation, ideas best expressed through the collected study and performance of great music.
Music has an unusual ability to promote rapport and pleasure in the wake of catastrophe. After the lorry attack in Nice, Sakari Oramo, the conductor at the first night of the BBC Proms, a series of open-air classical concerts, preceded his scheduled programme with a rendition of “La…Continue reading