At the first public Dada-Soirée, at the Cabaret Voltaire in Zürich, on July 14, 1916, Hugo Ball read aloud his Dada manifesto — "How does one achieve eternal bliss? By saying dada. How does one become famous? By saying dada" — and recited several of his sound poems, including "Karawane," reënacted above. This week critics of the New York Times have an overview of Dada's influence. Esa-Pekka Salonen's recent choral-orchestral work Karawane, an elegantly barbaric setting of Ball's poem, is one sign of Dada's lingering presence.
Will Robin writes in The New York Times about a Dream Unfinished concert in New York next Wednesday, titled Sing Her Name. The program, under the direction of James Blachly and John McLaughlin Williams, includes music of Florence Price, Margaret Bonds, and Ethel Smyth, together with a new work by Courtney Bryan, to a text by the African-American poet Sharan Strange. Listen here to Bryan's Sanctum, premiered last year, which features the voices of Ferguson activists.
Also worthy of note is Tyshawn Sorey’s Josephine Baker: A Portrait, which Zachary Woolfe described in the New York Times as "one of the most important works of art yet to emerge from the era of Black Lives Matter." The première, with the remarkable soprano Julia Bullock, took place in Ojai in June; a video is available on YouTube. Mostly Mozart will present the piece at Lincoln Center on August 24.
This recording of Vagn Holmboe's Tenth Symphony, with Sixten Ehrling conducting the Gothenburg Symphony, appeared in 1977 on a Caprice LP; on the flip side was Nystroem's Sinfonia Breve. A decade later I picked up a copy for my WHRB radio show "The Twentieth-Century Symphony." Sadly, the pairing never seems to have made it to CD, although you can find a fine reading of the Tenth in BIS's complete survey of the Holmboe symphonies, with Owain Arwel Hughes conducting. I love the work's opening gesture, a kind of tremor that turns into sound.
There are considerable resources online devoted to the dark subject of music, torture, and violence. This page at Social Musicology has links to important articles by Suzanne Cusick, M.J. Grant, and others. Grant recently wrote a powerful overview of the music-and-torture question for VAN magazine, which has rapidly established itself as a venue for unfettered music writing. On music torture at Guantánamo and other American prisons, see Cusick's “You are in a place that is out of the world...," Tony Lagouranis and Allen Mikaelian's Fear Up Harsh: An Army Interrogator’s Dark Journey Through Iraq, Moustafa Bayoumi's "Disco Inferno," and David Peisner's "Music as Torture," among other sources. The log of the interrogation of Mohammed al-Qahtani can be read here.
Some significant books that I was unable to discuss in the piece: Jonathan Pieslak's Radicalism & Music, examining the musical tastes of Al Qaeda militants, racist skinheads, Christian radicals, and eco/animal rights militants; Steve Goodman's Sonic Warfare; and the anthologies Music, Politics, and Violence, Music and Conflict, and Music and Genocide. Pieslak recently wrote a piece on the music of the Islamic State.