Title of Presentation

The Politics of Music: Examining Political Motivations of John Adams' "Nixon in China"

Type of Submission

Synchronous Research Talk

Research Field

History, Music

Faculty Advisor

Dr. Adriana Ponce

Graduation Year

2021

Start Date

11-4-2021 1:00 PM

End Date

11-4-2021 2:00 PM

Abstract

At any given point in history, the arts have always been subject to political agendas, and music is no exception. As a dramatic art form, opera in particular is a genre that lends itself quite easily to political themes, whether as a reaction to political events or to push an agenda. My research aims to explore the politics of music, in particular how John Adams' grand opera Nixon in China aligned with American political designs in the 1980's concerning our international image during the Cold War.

In my research, I examine elements of the opera such as the music, choreography, libretto, staging, scoring and the stylistic choices made by John Adams (the composer), Alice Goodman (the librettist), and Peter Sellars (the director). I analyze these elements through the lens of political motivation and American public sentiment surrounding the historical event that the opera is based off of. I also compare these choices to the real-world events that the characters of the opera act out, and analyze both historical accuracy as well as how the events were depicted by the media of the time.

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Apr 11th, 1:00 PM Apr 11th, 2:00 PM

The Politics of Music: Examining Political Motivations of John Adams' "Nixon in China"

At any given point in history, the arts have always been subject to political agendas, and music is no exception. As a dramatic art form, opera in particular is a genre that lends itself quite easily to political themes, whether as a reaction to political events or to push an agenda. My research aims to explore the politics of music, in particular how John Adams' grand opera Nixon in China aligned with American political designs in the 1980's concerning our international image during the Cold War.

In my research, I examine elements of the opera such as the music, choreography, libretto, staging, scoring and the stylistic choices made by John Adams (the composer), Alice Goodman (the librettist), and Peter Sellars (the director). I analyze these elements through the lens of political motivation and American public sentiment surrounding the historical event that the opera is based off of. I also compare these choices to the real-world events that the characters of the opera act out, and analyze both historical accuracy as well as how the events were depicted by the media of the time.