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Alan Bush, Modern Music, and the Cold War

Alan Bush, Modern Music, and the Cold War
The Cultural Left in Britain and the Communist Bloc


Part of Music since 1900

  • Date Published: August 2017
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107033368

£ 78.99

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About the Authors
  • The first major study of Alan Bush, this book provides new perspectives on twentieth-century music and communism. British communist, composer of politicised works, and friend of Soviet musicians, Bush proved to be 'a lightning rod' in the national musical culture. His radical vision for British music prompted serious reflections on aesthetics and the rights of artists to private political opinions, as well as influencing the development of state-sponsored music making in East Germany. Rejecting previous characterisations of Bush as political and musical Other, Joanna Bullivant traces his aesthetic project from its origins in the 1920s to its collapse in the 1970s, incorporating discussion of modernism, political song, music theory, opera, and Bush's response to the Soviet music crisis of 1948. Drawing on a wealth of archival sources, including recently released documents from MI5, this book constructs new perspectives on the 'cultural Cold War' through the lens of the individual artist.

    • Presents a new perspective on modern British music and Cold War politics, offering a subtler alternative to binary oppositions of culture in the East and West
    • The first major study of Alan Bush, an important figure in twentieth-century music and communism, providing detailed insights into his controversial compositions
    • Incorporates a wealth of archival research from newly released official documents as well as numerous musical examples
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Her [Bullivant's] book will serve as a key reference on the composer, and its perspectives deserve full consideration by anyone studying twentieth-century music and communism … drawing on newly available archival material, it carefully considers key 'images' of Bush - as modernist, as left-wing political activist, national outsider, 'Stalinist'. The result is a nuanced assessment of Bush's ideas and position within both British and East German musical life.' Mike Makin-Waite, Twentieth Century Communism

    'Joanna Bullivant's newly published book, the first full-length study of Bush's life and music, is long overdue and wholly to be welcomed … anyone interested in Alan Bush's music should get their local library to stock it.' Andy Croft, The Morning Star

    'Joanna Bullivant has given us a good deal to think about with this excellent book, in regard to the tensions between modernist aesthetics and radical politics.' Pete Dale, Transposition: Musique et Sciences Sociales

    'Alan Bush's reputation as a serious composer remains and, as the Cold War fades into memory, those dichotomous views of Bush which have so long prevailed are also becoming more blurred. This book makes a substantial contribution to this process, and offers new perspectives on a phenomenon which still fascinates us today …' Toby Thacker, Twentieth-Century Music

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    Product details

    • Date Published: August 2017
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107033368
    • length: 287 pages
    • dimensions: 253 x 180 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.74kg
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. Bush as modernist: material and performance
    2. Bush as activist: the idea of workers' music
    3. Bush as outsider: music and communism in wartime
    4. Building in the rubble: the winter journey and Lidiče
    5. Bush as Stalinist: the year 1948
    6. Bush and the self: Wat Tyler's rituals of becoming
    7. Bush and East Germany: opera, sex, and the communist body.

  • Author

    Joanna Bullivant, University of Oxford
    Joanna Bullivant is Lecturer in Music at Magdalen College, Oxford. She has published widely on British composers, modernism, and music and politics. This is her first book.

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