For a few years I’ve been thinking about the relation of music and democracy. As I explain in my first post on this blog, this interest had two points of origin: the obsession of many 1960s radicals (who I had studied in two previous books) with ‘democratising’ music-making; and a course I was teaching at the University of Nottingham that examined uses of classical music to ‘change lives’, including through processes of democratisation. Musicians have often been keen to identify their practice with the idea of ‘democracy’, yet these claims have received relatively little careful discussion or analysis.
I’ve shared some of my thoughts on the matter in a number of conference papers and guest lectures, and I’m now working on several large-scale publications on the subject (see below). But the pace of academic publishing is slow, and access to academic journals and books can still be difficult, even in the age of ‘open access’. I’m hoping this blog will allow me to share ideas more informally, as they arise in the course of reading and writing, and maybe with a somewhat different audience to my academic presentations. The exchange of opinions is regarded by most theorists as essential to a functioning democracy, and in that spirit I warmly welcome comments and critique!
Robert Adlington holds the Queen’s Anniversary Prize Chair in Contemporary Music at the University of Huddersfield. He was convenor of the 2-day symposium ‘Finding Democracy in Music’ at Huddersfield in September 2017. He is writing a monograph with the provisional title Musical Models of Democracy, and is co-editing (with Esteban Buch) a volume of essays arising from the Huddersfield symposium. In 2018 he will be coordinator of democracy-related events at the Darmstadt Summer Course and the TRANSIT Festival of New Music in Leuven.
He is the author of books on Harrison Birtwistle, Louis Andriessen, and avant-garde music in 1960s Amsterdam, editor of books on the 1960s avant-garde and music and communism outside the communist bloc, and has published journal articles and book chapters on Luigi Nono, Luciano Berio, modernism and musical temporality. He is also currently co-editing (with Dörte Schmidt) a new multi-author volume entitled New Music Theatre in Europe: Transformations between 1955-1975 (Routledge).