In this first episode of our second season of Thoughtlines we talk about how culture fights back with historian Professor Kenneth Marcus.
As a visiting fellow at CRASSH he’s been exploring what happens when music ‘goes there’ and tackles the horror and heartbreak of war. The ongoing conflict in Ukraine and its musical resistance, rapidly going viral on social media, is effectively his project in real time. But his focus on the epic pacifist works of Arnold Schoenberg, Hanns Eisler, and Benjamin Britten reminds us that music was shaping the global human rights imagination well before now.
Not only that, it’s also a very effective way to wake up the classroom.
Many thanks to Larry Schoenberg for permission to use an excerpt from Arnold Schoenberg’s A Survivor from Warsaw, Op. 42: http://www.schoenberg.at/index.php/en/joomla-license-sp-1943310036/a-survivor-from-warsaw-op-46-1947
The piano track featured after the introduction is "Waves", written and performed by Kenneth Marcus.
Kenneth talks about his book, Schoenberg and Hollywood Modernism, in the Author Hub series at Cambridge University Press: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B_u0-3dLsCw&ab_channel=CambridgeUniversityPress-Academic
He performs his rap on World War I, titled The War: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z_D_K6oWdyI&ab_channel=KennethMarcus
One of the only live-performance videos of Hanns Eisler’s Germany Symphony (Deutsche Sinfonie, Op. 50) is with the Rundfunk-Sinfonie-Orchester Berlin and Rundfunkchor Berlin, conducted by Max Pommer (1987): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LvB_XNCaJKo
Examples of using the arts as resistance in the war in Ukraine:
Ukraine's music is an effective weapon of resistance
"I wanted to fight. The army told me to sing"
Ukrainian graduates dance in front of destroyed school in Kharkiv
Kyiv Chamber Orchestra, on using music for peace and resistance
Kenneth Marcus, Cambridge playlist:
Handel, Trumpet Concerto in D Major, HWV 335a (Crispin Steele-Perkins, trumpet, Cambridge Music Festival, St. Catherine’s College, 1990)
Dvorak, Cello Concerto in B Minor, Op. 104 (Steven Isserlis, cello, West Road Concert Hall, 1989)
Gershwin, ’S Wonderful (performed at Forbes Mellon Library, Clare College, 1987)
Gershwin, I Got Rhythm (performed at College Chapel, Clare College, 1987)
Marcus, Long, Hungry World (composed at Thirkill Court, Clare College, 1987)
Marcus, Talkin’ Love (composed at 30 Hardwick Street, Newnham, 1991)
Marcus, Waves (composed at Cambridge, 1991)
Quincy Jones with Ice-T, Kool Moe Dee, Big Daddy Kane, and Melle Mel, Back on the Block (played as DJ for Cambridge University Radio, 1990)
Strauss, The Blue Danube (Clare May Ball, 1990)
Tosh, I Am That I Am (Clare May Ball, 1990)
Javanese Gamelan (percussionist in Cambridge Gamelan Society, West Road Concert Hall and Hyde Park, London, 1990)
William Byrd, Short Evening Service (King’s College Evensong, 1989)