Sunday, 23 February 2014

El Sistema

There was an interesting discussion about Venezuela during BBC Radio 3's Music Matters programme yesterday. Since this blog deals neither with politics nor with music (for the most part), I'll steer clear of most of the details but the discussion of El Sistema (which has brought us Gustavo Dudamel and the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra) reminded me of this article by James MacMillan about El Sistema's Catholic roots. You can hear Jose Antonio Abreu, the founder of El Sistema, speaking about some of his beliefs here.

The programme also addressed the issue of Richard Strauss's links with the Nazi regime by talking to Christoph von Dohnanyi, one of Strauss's great interpreters, who came from a solidly anti-Nazi family. It raised some hugely important questions which von Dohnanyi dealt with movingly, though there is undoubtedly more to be said. What are we to make, for instance, of Strauss's Alpine Symphony, which he considered naming Der Antichrist? Ideology matters in music as well as in literature but maybe a composer's (or an author's) ideology can be trumped by the audience's (or reader's).  

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