“In the Soviet Union under Stalin and Khrushchev, classical music was generally accessible and composers like Sergei Prokofiev and Dmitri Shostakovich managed to write major works in spite of the rigid censorship to which they were subjected. North Korea, by contrast, does not have anything remotely resembling a serious musical culture–and what it does have is not available to ordinary citizens…”
Archives for October 27, 2007
The New York Philharmonic is currently discussing a possible visit to Pyongyang with the North Korean government and the U.S. State Department. I’ve been thinking about the matter for the past couple of weeks, and the result is the “Sightings” column that appears in this morning’s Wall Street Journal. Should the Philharmonic perform under the auspices of what may be the world’s most repressive government? The answer isn’t as obvious as you might think–no matter what you think.
To find out where I stand, pick up a copy of the Saturday Journal, where you’ll find my column in the “Weekend Journal” section.
UPDATE: The Wall Street Journal has posted a free link to this piece:
What would you have thought if Franklin Roosevelt had encouraged the Philharmonic to accept an official invitation to play in Berlin in the spring of 1939? Do you think such a concert would have softened the hearts of the Nazis, any more than Jesse Owens’s victories in the 1936 Olympics changed their minds about racial equality? Or inspired the German people to rise up and revolt against Adolf Hitler? Or saved a single Jewish life?
The New York Philharmonic and the Bush administration would do well to ponder these questions before consenting to put America’s oldest orchestra at the service of the man who turned off all the lights in North Korea.
To read the whole thing, go here.