It's quite amazing to think that Gordon Mumma was writing music like this as early as the 1960's.
Today, his work may still pose considerable difficulties to the average listener.
Gordon Mumma - The Dresden Interleaf 13 February 1945
A few facts about his life and work:
Mumma's performances on piano were often in the context of piano ensembles, partnered with John Cage, David Tudor, and other performers. He toured internationally in the 1960s in a two-piano performance collaboration with Robert Ashley. He cofounded Ann Arbor's Cooperative Studio for Electronic Music with Ashley in 1958-66, was a cofounder of the ONCE Festival in 1961-66 in Ann Arbor, was a resident composer with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company alongside Cage and Tudor from 1966–74, and was a member of the Sonic Arts Union with Ashley, Alvin Lucier, and David Behrman.
Mumma was professor of music at the University of California-Santa Cruz from 1975 to 1994, where his composition students included Chris Brown, Joe Hannan, Daniel James Wolf, Jonathan Segel, and Mamoru Fujieda (See: List of music students by teacher: K to M#Gordon Mumma.). Mumma also has a close association with Mills College in Oakland, California, where he was the Darius Milhaud Professor in 1981, Distinguished Visiting Composer in 1989, and Jean Macduff Vaux Composer-in-Residence in 1999.
Mumma currently lives in Victoria, British Columbia, where he continues to compose.
I was glad to know about this piece, and read a little bit about it. You know, it was composed in 1964.
And of course it's about the bombing of Dresden by the UK and US forces, in 1945. The same year of the fire-bombing of Tokyo. I guess today is the 71st anniversary of the bombing of Dresden.
Below are some excerpts found online about this piece:
From http://www.lovely.com/albumnotes/notes1093.html :
THE DRESDEN INTERLEAF 13 FEBRUARY 1945 (1965) commemorates the bombing of the city of Dresden in the final days of World War II. Dresden, like Kyoto, Paris, and Venice, had been designated an irreplaceable historic treasure and spared as a military target. The city was used as a refuge for war casualties, prisoners, children and elderly civilians--until February 13. The bombing of Dresden provided the Allies the last chance to experiment with a firestorm on a previously undamaged city. A firestorm is a meteorological phenomenon that rapidly consumes oxygen over a wide area, resulting in suffocating incineration.
The work was composed during the last months of 1964 at the Cooperative Studio for Electronic Music in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Its concert premiere took place on 13 February 1965, the twentieth anniversary of the Dresden firestorm, at a ONCE Festival concert in Ann Arbor. The premiere combined recorded sound with the harrowing live performance of alcohol-burning model-airplane engines in the central section. The "Interleaf" of its title refers to its parenthetical insertion between two unrelated instrumental compositions in this first and several subsequent performances; performed without a break between it and its framing works, the work evokes the brutally interuptive suspension of normal daily life of that February day.
My mistake. I didn't know the piece was composed in 1964. That makes more sense than what I said. I had read in McHard's "The Future of Music" about the ONCE festival performances, in Michigan, which led me to Gordon Mumma. I'll make a correction above.
Thanks for providing all that valuable information about this particular piece.
I think it highlights a particular problem of our age, which is that so much warfare isn't just about territory, winning battles, and tactical or strategic "defense." Sometimes it's just about testing weapons systems and using new "military techniques." It's often done just to see what the result will be--like the use of drones and other modern systems, in operations in Pakistan, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen.
As Madeleine Albright said, in advance of one invasion to someone who said the war was unnecessary, "It's true of the military, if you don't use it, you lose it." A country like the US has to continually find new pretexts for military action, at every turn, otherwise, the justifications for ever higher and higher war expenditures will disappear.
So just the other day, a new and huge more than half a trillion dollar budget for the armed forces was approved in committee (because people fear another San Bernadino) ... as if we need more destroyers, more advanced jets, more nuclear weapons, more submarines, more drones, more military hardware of all sorts, and more bases in Africa, the Pacific and East Asia, to defend against lone gunman.
According to Howard Zinn, who flew bombing raids over over Germany at the end of World War II, what happened at Dresden was, in many ways, a dry run for the merciless carpet bombing that took place in Vietnam. He said his flight groups were testing the precursors for what later became napalm, a kind of jellied petroleum bomb that caught fire on, and stuck to the bodies of victims.
I wish you were completely wrong about all that.
I still remember the day when, talking with my office mate when I worked in Germany, he realized I had no idea about what had happened in Dresden and was just stunned at my unclassifiable ignorance. Yet aren't most of us ridiculously ignorant?
Besides the bombs and the drones and the weapons systems which you mention, there are other things too. How about, oh, some very peaceful economic sanctions? You quoted Madaleine Albright. Here's another quote from her, from 1996 (with which I'm sure you're familiar):
Lesley Stahl on U.S. sanctions against Iraq: We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price–we think the price is worth it.
—60 Minutes (5/12/96)
Yes. I always thought that was one of the most morally reprehensible public statements made by any US official in modern times.
Mariza Costa-Cabral said:
Unfortunately, Bernie Sanders when asked a couple of days ago about a foreign leader who would influence his foreign policy, answered "Winston Churchill" -- an answer I'm not able to interpret in any kind of positive light. It is a terrible answer. What does it imply? The least negative light that occurred to me is that Sanders hasn't given any thought at all to foreign policy issues. That of course is a ginormous problem. I bet you're depressed about it, too.
Sanders may not endorse Churchill's crimes but they apparently did not impress him as important, either. The bombing of Dresden under Churchill (the topic that made me think of Sander's Churchill now), the starvation of close to 3 million people in India (then a colony, and forced by Churchill to export rice and other grain during their great famine), his concentration camps in Kenya, his violent actions in Ireland, his promotion of chemical weapons, and the rest of the Churchill iceberg...
Makes me wonder who Sanders actually is at a very fundamental level.
Yes, it does
Mariza Costa-Cabral said:
Oh, I hadn't been aware of this, but apparently, according to the White House web site, a bust of Winston Churchill has a "prominent place in the White House": https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2012/07/27/fact-check-bust-winston-...
Wow! Notice the concern from the White House to dispel the rumors that President Obama might've done something as terrible as removing the bust!
It seems that the rumors of Churchill's death had been greatly exaggerated as well.
Churchill's significance in history has to be a bit more nuanced. He was instrumental in helping to defeat Hitler, of course. So was Stalin. I don't think Stalin gets a pass as a "good guy," even though the USSR destroyed 80 percent of the Nazi troops killed by "the Allies."
Churchill was merciless against Gandhi, defaming him, as well as oppressing his people. Churchill approved of the use of poison gas against those in Iraq who rebelled against the British Empire.
"I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes. The moral effect should be so good that the loss of life should be reduced to a minimum. It is not necessary to use only the most deadly gasses: gasses can be used which cause great inconvenience and would spread a lively terror and yet would leave no serious permanent effects on most of those affected."
Winston S. Churchill: departmental minute (Churchill papers: 16/16) 12 May 1919 War Office
As soon as World War II was over, Churchill was overwhelmingly voted out, thrown out on his ear (because the people knew he was ruthless, and ruthlessness was a good thing against Hitler).
After Churchill was voted out, the British immediately put in a socialized health system (the NHS), which Churchill adamantly opposed.
The Dresden bombing, mass atrocities against colonial peoples (and their alleged necessity) seem to be the product of thinking that is somewhat less than "nuanced."
This is putting it politely.
We hear similar things today from Republican candidates who say "Waterboarding is not torture." Why? Because it's not inflicting "excruciating pain which closes down organ systems, damaging them permanently." However, that is not the legal definition of torture, internationally, agreed to by all the declarations we have signed along with signatories to United Nations agreements, the Geneva conventions, the International Convention against Torture, and so on.
Sanders barely has a grasp of the most important international issues.
One explanation is, he simply hasn't chosen to educate himself substantially on the issues, other than what he needs to distinguish himself from Hillary Clinton, who is substantially further to the right.
Another explanation is, he will have enough trouble going up against the corporate sectors he opposes. To go up, additionally, against the military industrial complex, perhaps seems to him impossible.
He is nowhere as progressive, any way, as Jeremy Corbyn is, on military and foreign policy issues.
Mentioning "Winston Churchill," as he does, is "safe" for most people. It's a non-answer, requiring no thought, to cite Churchill.
From a progressive, leftist, or Marxian perspective, Sanders' point of view is barely distinguishable from Obama's, probably identical.
Thank you for taking the time to reflect a bit and respond.
I quickly read the article you linked to (http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2016/02/13/sand-f13.html) (thanks!) and it appears to reflect the same worry as I have. It says:
"For Socialist Alternative, Sanders’ defense of US war crimes merely “reveals his political limitations.” Such a trivial issue, the authors insist, 'does not negate the enormously progressive aspects of his campaign as it politicizes millions of workers and young people.'
"Really? Please explain, Socialist Alternative, how it is possible for a politician to be opposing the interests of the corporate-financial elite at home when he is supporting the policies carried out to advance the interests of the very same ruling elite abroad! In reality, Sanders’ open support for US imperialism overseas exposes as fraudulent his supposed opposition to Wall Street within the borders of the United States."
"When Sanders repeatedly votes to fund the Pentagon and its operations around the world, he is not making a 'mistake.' He is making a deliberate decision to advance the interests of the American ruling class abroad."
A parallel question to the one I underlined above is: How is it possible for a politician to be committed to racial and social equality at home when he is supporting oppression of other peoples abroad?
Maybe it is as you wrote that he feels "he will have enough trouble going up against the corporate sectors he opposes. To go up, additionally, against the military industrial complex, perhaps seems to him impossible." But I can't help wonder, and I hope I'm wrong, whether he may actually be pro-actively supporting the military industrial complex. Since he specifically praised Churchill's ability to rally the public for war (though granted that in the case of WWII was no doubt necessary for defense), I can't help wondering whether his intent in highlighting that was to reassure the military industrial complex that he is their man, i.e., that he is ready to rally the public for more wars, after having demonstrated that he is the best able to rally young people around his campaign. (The phrase used by Socialist Alternative, quoted above, is that his campaign "politicizes millions of workers and young people".) My wish is to be completely wrong, but unfortunately I do feel worried.
P.S. You wrote: "He is nowhere as progressive, any way, as Jeremy Corbyn is, on military and foreign policy issues." Yes, I think you had provided some information on Corbyn which I was glad to hear about. At least there's that good news.