What's New: Political Classical

Nov 7, 2016

Mrs. President the opera
Credit Kevin Patterson

You have probably heard the phrase “strange bedfellows.” It may have been invented by Shakespeare in The Tempest, “Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows.” Today we often hear the phrase “politics makes strange bedfellows.” We’ll go one step further with Classical music and politics, strange bedfellows indeed!

From a 19th century folk song to a 2012 a musical portrait of “social and human crisis” for piano and orchestra, we’ll hear Political Classical compositions on today’s What’s New!


Gabriela Montero wrote her Ex Patria: In Memoriam as a musical commentary on Venezuela today. Paul Moravec set these words by President Eisenhower to music: "History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid." Steve Stucky’s August 4, 1964 is a work for large orchestra, chorus, and vocal soloists dealing with the Vietnam War and equal rights. David Lang took one line from each national anthem of the United Nations’ 193 countries, and created a masterpiece, The National Anthems for Choir and String Quartet. Victoria Bond wrote Mrs. President, her 2002 opera is about Victoria Woodhull, the first woman to make a bid for the White House.

These are some of the lyrics to Aaron Copland's The Dodger from Old American Songs:

Yes the candidate’s a dodger, yes a well known dodger,
Yes the candidate’s a dodger, yes and I’m a dodger too.
He’ll meet you and treat you and ask you for your vote
But look out boys he’s a dodgin’ for a note,
Yes we’re all dodgin’, a dodgin’, dodgin’, dodgin
Yes we’re all dodgin’ out away through the world

What’s New is a production of WBAA Classical, a listener supported broadcast service of Purdue University.