chapter  14
10 Pages

You Need Beethoven to Modernize

Toward the end of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, in the mid-1970s, the routine attacks on revisionists and running dogs of imperialism were briefly interrupted by a strident anti-Beethoven campaign. Some talented composers and performers from Muslim countries, especially from Turkey, have been very successful in the Western world; the response to their kind of music at home is still relatively slight. Before long, some Japanese discovered that Western music expressed their feeling far better than anything in their own tradition. The local musical tradition engages in an intense give and take with Western music. The Suzuki Method, which applies the traditional Japanese techniques of rote training to children learning the violin, has won a substantial following in the West. Muslim and Japanese responses with Western music symbolize their larger encounters with Western civilization. Muslim resistance to accepting music from the West represents its larger unwillingness, whereas the Japanese have truly entered the inner citadel.