Political power of music topic of Carleton lecture

February 8, 2017

Carleton College will present a public lecture about the political power of music on Thursday, Feb. 16 at 7 p.m. at the Germanic American Institute in Saint Paul. Carleton’s David Tompkins, associate professor of history and director of European studies, along with assistant professor of German Juliane Schicker will present "The Sound of Politics: Building and Destroying Socialism in East Germany through Music.” The event is free and open to the public.

The presentation will explore the Stalinist period in East Germany and how music and its performance, especially in the country's final two decades, influenced and was influenced by socio-political discourse. At the time, music was essential to building the 'new socialist society" but was also used as a tool to criticize society.

Tompkins will explore the sound of early socialism and the actions and reactions of party members, composers, and citizens. Schicker will review the last two decades of the socialist regime and share how the space of musical performance was active in deconstructing the socialist society. The presentation derives from Tompkin's book “Composing the Party Line: Music and Politics in Early Cold War Poland and East Germany” (2013), and Schicker's book manuscript “Sounds of Resistance.”

Schicker shares that the influence of arts in political agendas and social organizing is incredibly important, albeit often overlooked. "Composers have a long tradition of reacting to their political environment, not only in popular music but also in classical music. The performances of such classical works are often considered an elitist act, but orchestra performances now and then are much more than a recitation of music long gone."

This event is sponsored by the Carleton College Department of German and Russian. For more information, including disability accommodations, call (507) 222-4238. The Germanic American Institute is located at 301 Summit Avenue in Saint Paul, Minn. For directions, call (651) 222-7027 or visit online at www.gai-mn.org.