Composer Aaron Copland and Texas Gov. Rick Perry: together at last. That was the reaction of many people when they heard the governor's new political commercial, promising to stand up for Christians.
The music for the governor's commercial sounds a lot like Copland, composer of "Appalachian Spring," "Lincoln Portrait," "Fanfare for the Common Man," etc.
The brilliant music critic Alex Ross says that it just sounds like Copland. Music in Copland's style is a staple of campaign ads, Ross said.
The amusing irony is that Copland was gay and a hardcore leftist. (Whether coincidence is not, Copland moved to his more listener-friendly style at about the same time that the Soviet Union was forcing Soviet composers such as Shostakovich to move in the same direction.)
Perry is getting a lot of heat for his gay-bashing ad, I prefer to take a more positive point of view and argue that his ad is an inadvertent tribute to America's tradition of tolerance. If a gay Commie's musical style can be incorporated into an ad aimed at right wing Republicans, we're still a pretty tolerant nation.
These kinds of ironies pop up a lot when folks don't know much about music. As Cleveland composer Jeffrey Quick observed in his blog, commentator Glenn Beck put himself in Joseph Stalin's camp when he criticized Shostakovich's opera, "The Nose," one of the pieces that inspired Stalin's crackdown on "way out" classical music.
The other day I was listening to a piece by Garvriil Popov, another Russian composer who ran afoul of Stalin's artistic enforcers. My wife complained that she didn't like it and that it sounded like "noise."
"Oh, sure," I told her. "Take Joseph Stalin's side!"