Music and the Cold War at the AMS

The Cold War and Music Study Group of the AMS has a new blog. At the moment it just includes notices about the study group’s forthcoming meeting at AMS 2009 (next weekend), but hopefully it will blossom into something more than this.

An open discussion about some of the topics raised at the meeting would be great, since the papers that are to be presented look pretty tasty:

Marcus Zagorski: ‘Historical Narrative and Aesthetic Judgment: Serial and Post-serial Music in West Germany’

Elaine Kelly: ‘Conceptions of Canons in a Post-Cold War Climate: Interpreting Narratives of the Past in the GDR’

Heather Wiebe: ‘Britain’s Cold War’

Lee Bidgood: ‘Czech Bluegrass Music, Ethnography, and the Liminal Presence of the Past’

Hon-Lung Yang: ‘Researching Music in the People’s Republic of China’

This is the sort of thing that would really have floated my boat a couple of years ago, and I’m still sort of gutted that I can’t be there. The papers by Kelly (which will ‘explore the limitations of assessing East German music according to aesthetic criteria shaped by the hegemonic “western” canon. In the process, she will suggest alternative means of interpreting narratives of the past in Cold War and post-Cold War contexts’) and Wiebe (which will ‘examine how some of the Cold War’s most pressing issues were addressed in a specifically British context. Focusing on Britten’s treatment of themes of communication and freedom, as posed against the forces of both capitalism and totalitarianism, she suggests that the particularity of British cultural responses to postwar modernity complicates familiar dichotomies of populist and avant-garde, East and West’) sound like they explore some of the issues (alternative histories, de-Westernising Europe, questioning traditional dichotomies, etc) that I touched on in my own thesis, but didn’t have the resources, energy or imagination to explore further. Hopefully some of the results will be available soon.


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