University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Faculty of Music Colloquia > Beyond socialist realism: political aesthetics in the German Democratic Republic

Beyond socialist realism: political aesthetics in the German Democratic Republic

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  • UserDr Golan Gur (Newton International Fellow of the British Academy; University of Cambridge)
  • ClockWednesday 12 November 2014, 17:00-18:00
  • HouseRecital Room, Faculty of Music.

If you have a question about this talk, please contact al683.

The German Democratic Republic gave rise to a distinctive Marxist outlook on musical culture and aesthetics. Precisely at the same time that Western European and American post-war avant-garde composers wrote the most complex and opaque scores in the history of music, leading GDR composers and theorists insisted that a truly progressive art must preserve its ties to realism in order to be widely understood. To be sure, the attempt to create art and music along Marxist socialist lines began well before the establishment of the GDR ; yet the defeat of Germany in World War II created new conditions for its undertaking. The talk presents my current research on the interrelations between political culture and musical thinking in the Soviet satellite country of East Germany. The aim of the study is twofold: to explore the connection between GDR music aesthetics and Marxist art theory, starting with the founders of Marxism, and, second, to put forward a critical investigation of the East German vision of cultural progress as a distinct paradigm of musical modernism. Striking a balance between the history of music aesthetics and the history of musical institutions and politics, my discussion concentrates on three major GDR musicians and musical thinkers, namely Hanns Eisler, Ernst Hermann Meyer and Georg Knepler. Each of them is treated paradigmatically as representative of a different but overlapping aspect and period in the history of East German musical culture.

This talk is part of the Faculty of Music Colloquia series.

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