Kulturarbeit in Nordkorea

My new essay on matters of classical music in Pyongyang has been posted at Sino-NK:

To make a sweeping cultural generalization, German musicians tend to bring great seriousness and historical sensitivities (in the best sense) to their views of, and work with, North Korean musicians. Notions of music’s function toward binding the community/Gesellschaft together, as well as the idea of composers under tremendous political pressure, all resonate with the experiences and memories of the German Democratic Republic, whose state-funded classical music apparatus was formidable, but ultimately undermined by Western popular music and the collapse of the state itself. Tracing German contemporary history back even further, musicians trained in recent years are also mindful of the notion of music conservatories, musicology training academies, and concert halls themselves as having the terrible potential to musically segregate out the undesirables for a society that has a tendency to fill its prison camps, and where even the greatest musicians can disappear. This is all a heavy burden when one walks into a North Korean rehearsal hall…

Read the whole illustrated essay here.

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