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The sad state of both modern politics and modern classical music performance

Both in contemporary politics and in contemporary classical music performance the situation today is of a stifling and boring sameness and conformity.

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Between the late 19th century and the lattermost decades of the 20th century, going to an orchestral musical performance had many parallels to watching an enlightened, enthusiastic and informed political debate.

The grand age of orchestral performance bears surprisingly little resemblance to what transpires in most concert halls today.

The passion and individuality of maestros and orchestras has gone, replaced by bland, banal, monotonous, soulless, humanless tedium.

Most of today’s orchestral performances aren’t music at all. They are nothing more than sonic propaganda in the name of calculation, academic snobbery and affected pomposity.

By contrast, orchestras and their conductors used to have distinct identities. Over the last four to five decades or so, we have however lost maestros who imbue their music with tempo rubato/variation.  The idea that a tempo must breathe, flow and be a reflection of a spiritual and emotional journey, has given way to strict adherence to a solid lifeless tempo.

In the age of Golovanov, Furtwangler, Svetlanov, Knappertsbusch, Mravinsky, Mengelberg and Bohm, orchestra performances were narrative journeys. It is what Furtwangler referred to as the ability to ‘transform the sensual into the spiritual’.

Likewise each orchestral culture was unique.

In Russian orchestras one had vibrato laden brass, aggressive strings that were always on the chaotic verge of going flat though without ultimately doing so, stern woodwinds, and staccato percussion.

In Germany, and in Berlin in particular, one had a lush, sonorous weighty, celestial sound, whose apogee was reached under Herbert von Karajan.

Václav Neumann’s Czechs had a captivating woodwind sound which rivalled the strength of the French brass.

Mengleberg’s Concertgebouw was renowned for continual string portamento, just as Stokowski’s Philadelphians were known for their free bowing.

But almost all of this has changed. More and more orchestras sound totally alike. A thin, homogenised sound, signifying nothing.  Stale tempi and no identity.

Beethoven symphonies are today often performed by orchestras little larger than a chamber band in a moronically academic attempt to recreate the inferior playing ability of musicians of the 1820s.  In doing so they cheat their audience of the authentic musical experience.

Politics has taken much the same course.

The speeches and ideas of men as diverse as Gladstone, Bismarck, Lenin, Disraeli, Roosevelt, Tsar Alexander III, Kennedy and Churchill, have given way to an age where speeches and personalities are no longer memorable.

In the same way that orchestral music no longer represents true emotions, political leaders no longer represent their own people nor their own cultures.

Things however are changing.

Russia’s vibrant Duma demonstrates that vigorous political debate from unique men and women with contrasting ideas is still possible.

Throughout Europe the rejection of old political parties has allowed new leaders with fresh ideas to emerge.

Donald Trump’s speeches are rather like an orchestral performance by a Golovanov or Furtwangler.

They are spontaneous, unpredictable, exciting, and human.  They are individual and have a trajectory.

Trump is far more of a rhetorical artist than even his allies give him credit for.

For years people have been saying that politics is boring. They have also said that classical music is boring.

Neither are boring; it’s just that most people have never heard the proper version of either.

I’ll end this post with a clip of the great East German conductor Hermann Abendroth conducting Beethoven’s 9th symphony with a Russian orchestra and choir. Note that Schiller’s ‘Ode to Joy’ is sung in Russian in a very beautiful translation.

Where is such invention today?

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Trump Has Gifted “No More Wars” Policy Position To Bernie Sanders (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 148.

Alex Christoforou

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RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou discuss how US President Donald Tump appears to have ceded his popular 2016 ‘no more wars’ campaign message and policy position to Bernie Sanders and any other US 2020 candidate willing to grad onto a non-interventionist approach to the upcoming Democrat primaries.

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“Is Bernie Stealing Trump’s ‘No More Wars’ Issue?” by Patrick J. Buchanan…


The center of gravity of U.S. politics is shifting toward the Trump position of 2016.

“The president has said that he does not want to see this country involved in endless wars… I agree with that,” Bernie Sanders told the Fox News audience at Monday’s town hall meeting in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Then turning and staring straight into the camera, Bernie added:

“Mr. President, tonight you have the opportunity to do something extraordinary: Sign that resolution. Saudi Arabia should not be determining the military or foreign policy of this country.”

Sanders was talking about a War Powers Act resolution that would have ended U.S. involvement in the five-year civil war in Yemen that has created one of the great humanitarian crises of our time, with thousands of dead children amidst an epidemic of cholera and a famine.

Supported by a united Democratic Party on the Hill, and an anti-interventionist faction of the GOP led by Sens. Rand Paul and Mike Lee of Utah, the War Powers resolution had passed both houses of Congress.

But 24 hours after Sanders urged him to sign it, Trump, heeding the hawks in his Cabinet and National Security Council, vetoed S.J.Res.7, calling it a “dangerous attempt to weaken my constitutional authorities.”

With sufficient Republican votes in both houses to sustain Trump’s veto, that should be the end of the matter.

It is not: Trump may have just ceded the peace issue in 2020 to the Democrats. If Sanders emerges as the nominee, we will have an election with a Democrat running on the “no-more-wars” theme Trump touted in 2016. And Trump will be left defending the bombing of Yemeni rebels and civilians by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia.

Does Trump really want to go into 2020 as a war party president?

Does he want to go into 2020 with Democrats denouncing “Trump’s endless wars” in the Middle East? Because that is where he is headed.

In 2008, John McCain, leading hawk in the Senate, was routed by a left-wing first-term senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, who had won his nomination by defeating the more hawkish Hillary Clinton, who had voted to authorize the war in Iraq.

In 2012, the Republican nominee Mitt Romney, who was far more hawkish than Obama on Russia, lost.

Yet, in 2016, Trump ran as a different kind of Republican, an opponent of the Iraq War and an anti-interventionist who wanted to get along with Russia’s Vladimir Putin and get out of these Middle East wars.

Looking closely at the front-running candidates for the Democratic nomination of 2020 — Joe Biden, Sanders, Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke, Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker — not one appears to be as hawkish as Trump has become.

Trump pulled us out of the nuclear deal with Iran negotiated by Secretary of State John Kerry and reimposed severe sanctions.

He declared Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization, to which Iran has responded by declaring U.S. Central Command a terrorist organization. Ominously, the IRGC and its trained Shiite militias in Iraq are in close proximity to U.S. troops.

Trump has recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, moved the U.S. Embassy there, closed the consulate that dealt with Palestinian affairs, cut off aid to the Palestinians, recognized Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights seized from Syria in 1967, and gone silent on Bibi Netanyahu’s threat to annex Jewish settlements on the West Bank.

Sanders, however, though he stands by Israel, is supporting a two-state solution and castigating the “right-wing” Netanyahu regime.

Trump has talked of pulling all U.S. troops out of Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet the troops are still there.

Though Trump came into office promising to get along with the Russians, he sent Javelin anti-tank missiles to Ukraine and announced a pullout from Ronald Reagan’s 1987 INF treaty that outlawed all land-based intermediate-range nuclear missiles.

When Putin provocatively sent 100 Russian troops to Caracas — ostensibly to repair the S-400 anti-aircraft and anti-missile system that was damaged in recent blackouts — Trump, drawing a red line, ordered the Russians to “get out.”

Biden is expected to announce next week. If the stands he takes on Russia, China, Israel and the Middle East are more hawkish than the rest of the field, he will be challenged by the left wing of his party, and by Sanders, who voted “no” on the Iraq War that Biden supported.

The center of gravity of U.S. politics is shifting toward the Trump position of 2016. And the anti-interventionist wing of the GOP is growing.

And when added to the anti-interventionist and anti-war wing of the Democratic Party on the Hill, together, they are able, as on the Yemen War Powers resolution, to produce a new bipartisan majority.

Prediction: By the primaries of 2020, foreign policy will be front and center, and the Democratic Party will have captured the “no-more-wars” political high ground that Candidate Donald Trump occupied in 2016.

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Over 200 killed, hundreds injured in series of blasts at Sri Lankan hotels & churches

A series of bombings hit churches and hotels across Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, killing more than 200 people.

RT

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Via RT…


A series of eight explosions rocked Catholic churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka as Christians began Easter Sunday celebrations, with over 200 killed and hundreds injured, media reported, citing police.

The blasts started at around 8:45am local time at St. Anthony’s Church in Colombo and St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, a Catholic-majority town outside of the capital. The Zion Church in Batticaloa on the eastern coast was also targeted. At around the same time, the Shangri-La, Cinnamon Grand and Kingsbury five-star hotels were also hit, police confirmed.

Two more explosions happened later in the day, targeting two more locations in Colombo. All attacks appear to have been coordinated.

At least 207 people were killed, Reuters reported, citing police. More than 450 were injured in the attacks.

Alleged footage of the aftermath, shared on social media, showed chaos and large-scale destruction inside at least one of the churches.

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Mike Pompeo reveals true motto of CIA: ‘We lied, we cheated, we stole’ (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 147.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a look at a Texas A&M University speech, and subsequent interview, with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The former CIA Director admitted, ‘as an aside’ to the question asked, that the Intelligence agency he headed up before being appointed as the top US Diplomat had a motto “we lied, we cheated, we stole”…which, according to Pompeo, contained entire CIA training courses based on ‘lying, cheating and stealing.’

Pompeo finally speaks some truth.

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