Mozart and Lily Allen: Not such strange bed fellows

In a story about the launch yesterday of the National Year of Music by Ed Balls, the Express highlighted the explicit content of music by NDubz, Lily Allen and Guns N’ Roses, claiming it will “dumb down music for millions of pupils rather than seek to widen their horizons.” But, for the vast majority of musicians and composers, music runs across the spectrum of human experience.

It would be near impossible for the Government to celebrate any artist if they could not choose any who wrote about sex and violence. Mozart’s Don Giovanni covers rape, seduction and murder. Wagner’s hero Siegfreid might be pure fantasy but nonetheless manages to procure a deadly weapon and amass a bodycount. Greek legend and biblical tales are rich in violent destruction (such as the massacre of the innocents) and lascivious passion (the rape of Europa, for example), and no one would imagine telling schools to keep them away from young people.

Either the intention of this piece is to find fault with Lily Allen and her fellow purveyors of popular culture, or a cheap shot at a Government minister. Either way, it’s not journalism.

Our guest writer is Cllr Alison McGovern, Southwark Council

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One Response to “Mozart and Lily Allen: Not such strange bed fellows”

  1. Roger McCarthy

    Listening to Wagner’s Ring at the moment and wondering what Siegfried’s bodycount actually is.

    Unlike his father Siegmund who is clearly an accomplished mass-murderer engaged in a full-scale blood-feud with Hunding’s clan, Wagner’s Siegfried is brought up in isolation from the rest of the human race and only gets two kills – the dwarf Mime (who he discovers plotting to kill him) and the giant-turned-dragon Fafnir – who has himself killed his own brother and is sitting on a hoard of twice- (or is it thrice- stolen) gold and roasting alive anyone who ventures into his cave.

    While I suppose a bodycount of two is technically still a bodycount he is hardly a dark age Bauer or Rambo.

    Of course the really icky element (discounting the obvious anti-semitism in the depiction of the treacherous, cowardly and greedy dwarfs) in the Ring is the obsessive incest – Siegfried is the son of the twins Siegmund and Sieglinde and himself shacks up with first his aunt Brunhilde and then his sister-in-law Gudrun.

    And then there’s the racist miscegenation subplot behind Hagen who is the son of a doubly illegitimate union between the sinister Jud Süss-like dwarf Alberich and the Burgundian Queen Kriemhild.

    And all this is positively anodyne compared to the relentless sex and violence of Wagner’s sources in the Volsungssaga and Nibelungenlied.

    But I rather doubt any young person who spends 14 hours poring over a bilingual libretto to find all this out is going to be what my mum would call ‘easily led’ and is unlikely to start making indecent advances to family members or invade Poland.

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