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The Politics and Music of Cornelius Cardew

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Item Type: Sound Recording Duration: 60 mins
Event Type: Interview and Music Program Origin: KPFA

From a program recorded on January 25, 1975, Charles Amirkhanian interviews the British composer, pianist, and Socialist, Cornelius Cardew. Born in 1936, Cardew had a traditional music education, studying composition and piano at the Royal Academy of Music in London. In the late 1950’s he became interested in avant-garde and electronic music, working with Karlheinz Stockhausen, and composing a series of aleatoric pieces influenced by the ideas of John Cage and others. In the late 1960s and 70s Cardew’s interest in Socialist politics, the Chinese Revolution, and the teachings of Mao Zedong, led him to reevaluate the academic avant-garde, essentially rejecting it as elitist, and irrelevant to the struggles of the working class. He went on to be a founding member of both the Scratch Orchestra and the People’s Liberation Music, both of which were nonhierarchical musical collectives with decidedly pro-Socialist intentions. In this program Cardew discusses the political aspects of his music as well as playing a selection of his protest songs and politically inspired solo piano works. Cardew died in 1981, the victim of a suspicious hit and run accident.

The program concludes with a spontaneous performance art piece by Ingram Marshall, otherwise known as eating lunch, and a brief excerpt from a tape work by Anthony Gnazzo.

Musical Selections:  The Great Learning, for various instruments and performers [excerpt] (1968-70, rev. 1972) (0:58) / Cornelius Cardew -- Mr. Media Man (ca. 1973) (2:53) / Laurie Baker & John Tilbury -- Revolution is the Main Trend in the World Today (ca. 1973) (3:03) / Cornelius Cardew -- Father Murphy, for piano (ca. 1973) (2:55) / Cornelius Cardew -- Four Principles on Ireland, for piano (ca. 1973) (5:48) / Cornelius Cardew -- Long Live Chairman Mao, for piano (1973) (1:57) / Cornelius Cardew -- First Things First [excerpt] (ca. 1975) (0:59) / Anthony Gnazzo
Performers:  Scratch Orchestra (Great)
People’s Liberation Music (Mr. ; Revolution)
Cornelius Cardew, piano (Father)
Genres:  Avant-Garde; Popular Music
Subject:  Scratch Orchestra; People’s Liberation Music; Aleatory music; Music -- Political aspects; Popular music; Protest songs; Piano music
People:  Amirkhanian, Charles; Cardew, Cornelius ; Turitz, Gene; Baker, Laurie Scott; Tilbury, John, 1936- ; Marshall, Ingram, 1942-; Gnazzo, Anthony, 1936-
Recording Date:  1/25/1975
First Broadcast Date:  1/25/1975
 
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