Julio Mendívil: Musical Violence

Photo: Universität Wien/Barbara Mair

“Thy magic power binds together again all that custom divides; all men become brothers where your soft wing glides.”  

Since Beethoven concluded his Symphony No. 9 by setting Schiller’s the Ode to Joy into a symphonic finale that, still today, resonates the essence of Western Classical Music in society, few have even allowed themselves to consider that maybe Western Classical Music could incarnate violence and hate against men, women and children.  Yet, violence is the Western Classical Music tradition in the South American Andes, where it represents violence against, and humiliation of, the continent’s indigenous communities.  Rather than “transforming the hearts” of European colonizers and “bringing them into harmony” with native peoples, Western Classical Music promoted thorough ethnic cleansing, the brutal legacy of which is still vividly on display.  University Professor Julio Mendívil, Chair of Ethnomusicology at the University of Vienna, knows that firsthand, from his own field research both in South America and in Europe.  Come welcome Professor Mendívil to our show and let’s find out just how wrong Beethoven was.

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