Change the World: Musings on my Paul Dessau research
Updated: Oct 7
Over the last 15-16 years I have enjoyed researching the Lieder of German composer Paul Dessau (1894-1979). I have presented this research at conferences, sung these pieces on recitals, lectured to classes, and have written a few articles. I completed my sabbatical book project on Dessau in August 2020.
One of the things that I think inspired me about Dessau and many of his collaborators, including Bertolt Brecht and Lin Jaldati, is the view that the arts can change the world.
All three of these artists challenged political systems, challenged ideas, and brought attention to injustice through their art.
Check out this link to my lecture recital for College Music Society Symposium entitled
Transforming Postwar East Germany through Song. Together, both artists challenged anti-Semitism, fascism, and encouraged their communities to seek peace.
I think this is an incredibly important idea for us as artists (singers, conductors, educators, instrumentalists, dancers, directors, actors, etc.) to keep in mind. I often hear musician friends complain about their status in society. However, it is time to take back your power. Program music that challenges your audience. Perform music that challenges ideas. Program music that illuminates the genius of underrepresented composers. Program music that causes your audience to re-evaluate their prejudices. Change the world!
Now more than ever this is the time follow the examples of artists who used their voices to bring about social awareness and social change.