WikiLeaks illuminates diplomats’ opinions on classical music

Posted on: September 20, 2011

In Sunday’s (9/18) Los Angeles Times, Marcia Adair writes, “Two recent and seemingly unrelated events, the release of 250,000 unredacted State Department cables written between 1966 and 2011 via WikiLeaks and the pro-Palestinian protests at the Israel Philharmonic concert in London, got us thinking: How closely entwined are politics and classical music in diplomatic circles? A few weeks ago WikiLeaks published cables sent by American diplomats who were reporting back to the government on events and people of interest to the United States. … Classical music is mentioned most often when the diplomat is discussing an individual’s openness to Western culture, his level of sophistication and the cultural health of a region in transition.” One entry, sent from Kuwait in 2004, reads, “The head of Shiite clerics in Kuwait, Mohammed Al-Mohri stated that ‘frivolous music’ such as jazz is ‘haram,’ or forbidden, but that classical music ‘such as Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony’ is acceptable.” Another, sent from the Vatican, also from 2004, states, “The Holy See is committed to a respectful dialogue with Islam. As a reflection of this commitment, the Vatican will host a reconciliation concert featuring the three faiths of Abraham. The Pittsburgh Symphony will play Mahler’s 2nd Symphony ‘Resurrection’ with Muslim choir and Jewish conductor.”

Posted September 20, 2011