Monday, February 8, 2010

Bernstein : Mahler's second - Musicians Against Nuclear Arms


Here's a piece of history – Bernstein conducting Mahler's second symphony in the National Cathedral in Washington, with Jessye Norman, Barbara Hendricks and musicians drawn from the National Symphony and the Baltimore Symphony, playing under the banner of Musicians Against Nuclear Arms.  
Can you imagine this happening now? Can you imagine three of the US's most famous musicians leading a performance in the National Cathedral under the banner of, say, 'Musicians Against Military Intervention'? 

No. I miss the days in which the US had a genuine opposition, when opponents of militarism could speak up, could play Mahler in the National Cathedral. 

The performance has its ragged moments, but I find it moving precisely because it is a testament to a better age. Perhaps the ideals were foolish, but foolish ideals are better than paranoid ideation any day. 

Alex Ross has an interesting piece on this performance here

Since the original post, I've encountered a rather better transfer of the recording, which I'm now reposting. As the US presidential elections near, and we face the prospect of a republican candidate who is a kind of cross between Ronald McDonald and a toilet brush genuinely representing the deepest wishes of a substantial majority of the citizens of the US, I look around aghast. Where, where are the people who will stand up and say stop? Who will urge the use of the wealth, power and influence of the US to bring an end to poverty, disease and degradation of the environment? Who will urge the US to win friends and thereby win the peace it apparently desires by, well, being friendly? 

Such an awful silence.


Mahler : Symphony No 2
Barbara Hendricks, Jessye Norman, Musicians Against Nuclear Arms.
National Cathedral, Washington, 1984


6 comments:

  1. >> foolish ideals are better than paranoid ideation any day.<<

    Such "foolish ideals" cost untold millions of lives in the USSR, China, Cambodia, and a few other places.

    Where was Bernstein's anti-militarism when the Soviets invated Hungary? When they crushed Czecholslovakia? I guess he was busy partying with native terrorists (Black Pathers) at his Central Park West apartment...

    But I'm not surprised at these "foolish ideals". After all, much of the anti-war movement in the west was financed and directed by the KGB - one of the most brilliant operations they conducted to undermine US and promote the Soviet image.

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  4. US foreign and internal policies have caused untold misery to millions both within their own country and around the world..Period..What did Johnny Depp say: 'America is all greed and no taste'.Mind you Soviet foreign and internal policies did much the same (and worse).The moral of the tale: Don't put your faith in a bunch of crooks who'll do anything to fill their own pockets and increase their power..Better still listen to some Mahler..Many thanks.

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  6. Would it be possible to get a link to this file? Thank you for your help.

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