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Protest Music: 'classical' suggestions?

Discussion in 'Music' started by silverfern, Jun 30, 2011.

  1. silverfern

    silverfern New commenter

    I'm planning a unit on 'Protest Music' for my Year 10s next year (IB curriculum, so no GCSE restraints). Last year I focused just on 20thC popular protest songs, but I'd like to diversify a little next year.
    Can anyone suggest some pieces of 'classical' music that were written in 'protest'?
    Eg. Shostkovich's 7th Symphony, protest against the tragedies of WWII: "I had to write about it, I felt that it was my responsibility, my duty. I had to write a requiem for all those who died, who had suffered ... I had to describe the horrible extermination machine and express protest against it."
  2. florian gassmann

    florian gassmann Star commenter

    I guess that the legend of Beethoven dedicating the Eroica to Napoleon and then tearing up the title page when Napoleon declared himself emperor is a classic example, although not without controversy.
    Then you have Verdi, the letters of whose name were appropriated by the risorgimento as an acronym for Vittorio Emanuele Re D'Italia (Victor Emmanuel King of Italy), and whose wonderful Va Pensiero from Nabucco became an anthem of the protest movement - but not as a result of a direct intention by the composer.
    Shostakovich provides some of the best examples (going right back to the Lady Macbeth affair), but by and large it's difficult to find examples in classical music because, by and large, it has to be commissioned, and composers were unlikely to bite the only hand that fed them.
  3. John Adams opera the death of Kinghoffer (sp?) - a brilliant critique of Isrealie settlement policy. Beggars opera? Threnody for the victims of Hiroshima.
  4. florian gassmann

    florian gassmann Star commenter

    The last movement of Haydn's Farewell Symphony, with the gradually departing orchestra, was of course a subtle protest about the court orchestra being kept away from home for too long by Prince Esterházy.
  5. QFE

    QFE New commenter

    Sibelius - Finlandia
    Ben Britten - War Requiem
    V Williams - Dona Nobis Pacem

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