Frederic Rzewski (b. 1938-2021)
 
The Man
     -prolific US composer/pianist from MA
     -resident of Belgium, taught Conservatoire Royal de Musique 1977-2003
          guest taught Yale, U of Cincinnati, SUNY Buffalo, CA Inst., Mills, UCSD
     -studied with Walter Piston, Roger Sessions, Randall Thompson (Harvard)
           Milton Babbitt (Princeton), and Luigi Dallapiccola (Rome)
     -cofounded Musica electronica Viva in Rome 1966; still active pianist
 
The Music
     Best known political works:
          Coming Together (1971) - open instr + speaker, ca 20 min
          People United Will Never Be Defeated (1975) - solo piano, ca 30 min
          North American Ballads (1978-79) - solo piano, 4 mvts, 35 min
          De Profundis (1992) - for 'speaking pianist', ca 30 min
 
The Politics
     Compiled from his 'Nonsequiturs' collection:
 
     Arist's Responsibility
        -to relate work to an overall political context
          -be aware of tradition/disciplines & the technical/social forces
          -to combat elitism wihtout making artistic comprimises
          -choice to "continue a parasitic existence" or to service the people and popular movement 
                 "instead of dallying in the servants' quarters of the ruling class."  
        
     Art and Artist as Symbol
        -artists are highly skilled craftsmen, basically unproductive, so why do we need them?
          -"The discoveries of classical tradition represent major acquisitions of the human intellect."
          -their refusal to submit to the 'reality principle' - symbol of non-alienated creative work
          -"Their work provides a model for the creative negation of an oppressive reality."
          -the politics of a concert hall -- the social context of an audience, performer and composer
 
     History of Politics in Music
           -Plato and Augustine - music as social force
           -Middle Ages and early Renaissance, composers used music of their time in church setting
           -Masses and motets based on popular tunes, e.g. "L'homme arme" anti-war song from 100-Years War 
​           -Ars Nova, birth of opera, Protestant choral music of 17 C, all possible due to infusion of popular elements
         -Beethoven, Chopin and Wagner, conditioned by forces of society, expressed ideas as well as emotions
           -Verdi an example of popular success while being revolutionary artistically and socially
           -Pre WWII - Hans Eisler, Prokofiev and Shostakovitch, work on political themes
            -1930's US - Composers Collective & Workers Music League: Henry Cowell, Marc Blitzstein, Ruth Crawford Seeger
            -Cold War - most composers became abstract with the exception of Nono, Pouseur and Cage
            -1960-70's -  political composers Christian Wolff (US), Cornelius Cardew (UK), Louis Andriessen (Netherlands)
           -politicization of jazz, folk, rock threatens the White establishment