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spartito #2 – Political Classical Music

31 July 2018

In this episode, spartito focuses on political classical music, meaning classical music that has been written as a political statement. While political statements are a common thing in punk or rap music, they used to be quite rare in classical music. There are many reasons for that, the probably most obvious reasons being (1) the fact that many composers have been employed by Kings, Queens, Emperors and the likes for their entertainment (political statements would have cost their jobs / heads), and (2) the fact that a lot of classical music has been written on religious grounds (secularism and laicism are quite an appreciable approach). This however changed during the 20th century and more and more composers started to speak out loud and join political debates.

This episode refrains from featuring Richard Wagner, Franz Liszt or Giuseppe Verdi. Though their music has been used to emphasise political messages, this hasn’t been their driving force when they originally wrote it.

Please note: this episode of spartito is presented by one half of Pattern Dissection. May contain dissonances.


1. Luigi Nono: Intolleranza 1960 (excerpt from the Second Part) - Bernhard Kontarsky, Staatsopernchor Stuttgart, Staatsorchester Stuttgart, David Rampy, Jerrold van der Schaaf, Kathryn Harries, Urszula Koszut & Wolfgang Probst (Teldec Classics)
2. Dmitri Shostakovich: Symphony No. 11 in g minor, Op. 103 "The Year 1905" (excerpt: I. The Palace Square / II. The Ninth of January) - Mariss Jansons, The Philadelphia Orchestra (EMI Classics)
3. John Adams: The Death of Klinghoffer (excerpt from Act Two) - Kent Nagano, The Lyon National Opera Orchestra, The London Opera Chorus, James Maddalena, Janice Felty, Thomas Hammons, Thomas Young, Eugene Perry, Sanford Sylvan, Stephanie Friedman & Sheila Nadler (Elektra Nonesuch)
4. Karlheinz Stockhausen: Hymnen, Anthems for electronic and concrete sounds (excerpt from Region II) - electronic realisation by WDR Köln (Deutsche Grammophon)

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