The Politburo of Music

It has to be said that a particular kind of modernism, specific to certain places, times, ideologies and forceful personalities, has been sublimated into a paradigmatic position in our own time. A European modernism, with its roots in the 2nd Viennese School and developed by a small group of post-war composers in certain towns and cities on mainland Europe, has been given a special place in official understandings of the development of modern music. A message has gone out that composers, and indeed the musical public, should regard this sanctioned path as, not just the way forward, but they way things are and ought to be. State broadcasters, many sharing the aesthetical and political perspective of the composers themselves and their followers, give the oxygen of life, publicity and dissemination to this view of the musical present and future.

This has been especially the case in Germany and France, which are much more controlled by a centralised and top-down view of what hig...

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