The Propaganda of Freedom: JFK, Shostakovich, Stravinsky, and the Cultural Cold War

The Propaganda of Freedom: JFK, Shostakovich, Stravinsky, and the Cultural Cold War

by Joseph Horowitz
The Propaganda of Freedom: JFK, Shostakovich, Stravinsky, and the Cultural Cold War

The Propaganda of Freedom: JFK, Shostakovich, Stravinsky, and the Cultural Cold War

by Joseph Horowitz

Hardcover(First Edition)

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Overview

The perils of equating notions of freedom with artistic vitality

Eloquently extolled by President John F. Kennedy, the idea that only artists in free societies can produce great art became a bedrock assumption of the Cold War. That this conviction defied centuries of historical evidence—to say nothing of achievements within the Soviet Union—failed to impact impregnable cultural Cold War doctrine.

Joseph Horowitz writes: “That so many fine minds could have cheapened freedom by over-praising it, turning it into a reductionist propaganda mantra, is one measure of the intellectual cost of the Cold War.” He shows how the efforts of the CIA-funded Congress for Cultural Freedom were distorted by an anti-totalitarian “psychology of exile” traceable to its secretary general, the displaced Russian aristocrat/composer Nicolas Nabokov, and to Nabokov’s hero Igor Stravinsky.

In counterpoint, Horowitz investigates personal, social, and political factors that actually shape the creative act. He here focuses on Stravinsky, who in Los Angeles experienced a “freedom not to matter,” and Dmitri Shostakovich, who was both victim and beneficiary of Soviet cultural policies. He also takes a fresh look at cultural exchange and explores paradoxical similarities and differences framing the popularization of classical music in the Soviet Union and the United States. In closing, he assesses the Kennedy administration’s arts advocacy initiatives and their pertinence to today’s fraught American national identity.

Challenging long-entrenched myths, The Propaganda of Freedom newly explores the tangled relationship between the ideology of freedom and ideals of cultural achievement.


Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780252045271
Publisher: University of Illinois Press
Publication date: 09/26/2023
Series: Music in American Life
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 248
Sales rank: 1,176,068
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Joseph Horowitz is an award-winning cultural historian specializing in the American arts. His thirteen books include Dvorak’s Prophecy and the Vexed Fate of Black Classical Music and Artists in Exile: How Refugees from Twentieth-Century War and Revolution Transformed the American Performing Arts. His “More than Music” documentaries are a regular feature of NPR’s 1A.

Table of Contents

Apologia

Preface: Why and What

  1. JFK, the Artist, and “Free Societies”: A Cold War Myth
  2. Nicolas Nabokov and the Cultural Cold War
  3. Lines of Battle: The Case for Stravinsky; the Case against Shostakovich
  4. CIA Cultural Battlegrounds: New York and Paris
  5. Survival Strategies: Stravinsky and Shostakovich
  6. Survival Strategies: Nicolas Nabokov
  7. Cold War Music, East and West
  8. Enter Cultural Exchange

Summing Up: Culture, the State, and the “Propaganda of Freedom”

Afterword: The Arts, National Purpose, and the Pandemic

Appendix A: Nicolas Nabokov, “The Case of Dmitri Shostakovitch” (1943)

Appendix B: President John F. Kennedy/Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., The Amherst Speech (1963)

Notes

Acknowledgments

Index

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